Israel Israeli occupation Palestinians Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss and the inconvenient truth of suicide bombers

In a recent post, the increasingly influential Philip Weiss tells of a Gaza psychiatrist who pleads with his visitors to “reach out and heal” Israelis because they are “gripped by fear.” Weiss accepts the challenge. After saying Israelis have a “psychosis” because of their fears, he asserts:

I use the word psychosis because Israeli society is conditioned by the Holocaust and the 6 million and the belief that Jews can trust no one else. As Norman Mailer said, Hitler’s bitterest achievement was reducing Jews to the concern, Is it good for the Jews?

But not Mailer. And this is the sad truth about Zionism: it distilled distrust. Its nationalistic appeal sorted out Jews who were fearful about antisemitism from those who were not. It sorted out those who believe that Jews must look out for Jews from those who favor integration in western societies. It sorted out the ethnocentric, Is-it-good-for-the-Jews types, from Jews who think it’s OK to marry non-Jews. And in that division, the fearful took power. They moved to Israel or manned the barricades of the Israel lobby, and the integrators married non-Jews or wrote books about jazz and checked out. The fearful were granted power by the rest of the community.

I searched that post and the rest of MondoWeiss in vain for an acknowledgment that the fears of Israeli and American Jews are based on anything other than the Holocaust and an innate suspicion of the outside world. The Holocaust has certainly helped to “condition” Israeli consciousness. But Israelis and their supporters here (including realistic doves like me) have also been conditioned by a more recent phenomenon which is apparently of little consequence to Weiss and his allies: suicide bombings and rocket attacks on civilians.

The second intifada began 10 and 1/2 years ago, and the litany of incessant terrorist attacks against innocent civilians is still fresh in people’s minds. The idea that these attacks –and the rockets from Gaza that bombarded southern Israel– frightened and angered Israelis and made them believe there was no Palestinian partner seems so obvious that there should be no need to repeat it. Apparently there is.

Study a list of those attacks and focus on 2001-2003, and it is easy to understand why the intifada demolished much of the Israeli peace camp. It was not just the major, storied bombings like those directed at a banquet hall in Netanya, buses and cafes in Jerusalem, the Hebrew University cafeteria, malls and a disco in Tel Aviv. There was also a host of attacks, a constant barrage of them, that barely made the news here: in one 5-month period in 2002, there were bombings of a bus in Hadera, a bus at the Meron Junction, a bus in French Hill in Jerusalem, the central bus station in Tel Aviv, a bus near Afula.

There are many reasons for the perpetuation of the occupation, some of them inexcuseable, such as the persistent grip of Jewish settlers on Israel’s political system. But one of them is the legitimate Israeli worry that no one will exert control over extremist groups that see nothing wrong with blowing up Israeli women and children. To Weiss and the rest of the unremittingly anti-Israel left, when Palestinian terrorism is mentioned at all, it is explained away as understandable resistance to the occupation. In one blog post, Weiss mocks “the centrality of the Palestinian suicide bomber in Western demonology.” Mostly, he and his fans ignore what happened to Israelis in the second intifada or the rockets hitting Sderot. I don’t meant to imply that they are always wrong when they deplore Israel for over-reacting to Palestinian provocations. But they are wrong to discount the reasons for the reaction.

There is no doubt that Palestinians have suffered more than Israelis because of this conflict. There is an asymmetry of grief as well as an asymmetry of power. The occupation is immoral as well as illegal. Many more Palestinians than Israelis were killed during the intifada. But the fact remains that about 1,000 Israelis died and many more were seriously injured. That didn’t happen very long ago. Remembering those Israeli deaths and injuries, and being worried about more deaths and injuries, is not a symptom of psychosis. It is a rational response.

I believe Philip Weiss is making a good faith effort to understand Israelis and their followers in the U.S. He is correct in saying that the “fearful” have too much power, at least in the American Jewish community. But he should understand that there are widows, widowers, orphans, maimed victims and justifiable fears on both sides of the conflict.

89 thoughts on “Philip Weiss and the inconvenient truth of suicide bombers

  1. I wish there were a hundred Dan Fleshlers blogging about Israel, a thousand. And I don’t even agree with his politics! It’s so rare to find someone in the peace camp who’s willing to actually talk to Israelis and to those who share the concerns of the broad consensus of Israelis since at least September 2000.

    There’s no way that someone as intelligent as Weiss could believe a theory as stupid as “Holocaust psychosis” if he were being honest with himself. The theory might make sense to a Martian who heard about Israel and Jews, but who didn’t know about Israeli politics and had never read a newspaper. Weiss obviously should know better. It’s the Ashkenazim, the Israeli Jews most connected to the Holocaust, who are the base for the peace camp, the “beautiful souls” who believe in peace. It’s the Mizrahim, who have in comparison little connection to the Holocaust, who are the hard-line base of the right. I don’t believe Weiss is writing in good faith. He’s willfully ignoring reality in favor of polemics.

    Norman Mailer cared more about being interesting than being right. He was wrong here, as usual. What, before Hitler Jews weren’t ethnocentric? Please.

    I didn’t know that Weiss is becoming more influential. Bad news, if true.

  2. Another heartful post Dan.

    I saw a 2006 presentation by Rashid Khalidi on youtube last night (there are many of them).

    His willingness to agree to disagree was illuminating. He was confident, assertive even, in his own understanding of the balances of interpretation of different historical inquiry, but he included recognition of the validity of facts and experiences of the other, and inconsistencies in even his own understanding.

    People that respect the other, even if they differ, even radically differ, are prospects for productive discussion of resolving current conflicts and current tangible needs.

    Statements that discourage consideration of others’ perspective are only resolvable through the application of power to coerce.

    I get some element of validity in Bill Pearlman’s critique of Mondoweiss (both original presentation and comments), that is that the tone is often not ultimately of inquiry so much as propaganda.

    But the reality of the condition of Palestinians’ lives compel us to try to resolve rather than callously dismiss.

    When I don’t have time or access to gather and consider information fully, I lie low. I’ve undertaken efforts half-ass, and failed worse than if I had just stayed out of it. So, I think, better that I not speak up.

    On the other hand, then even the desire to voice mutual humanization goes unstated, even if I don’t have the current tools at hand.

  3. Dan, this is a wonderful post, but there’s far more to criticize in Weiss’s post. Weiss mentions abolition, and that leads me to recommend Micheal Berube’s book The Left at War. (Together with yours, the two books I’ve really been recommending a lot lately). Berube makes the point that many people who bring up abolition today would almost certainly have been arguing against ‘Northern imperialism’ at the time of the Civil War. They would not have been on the side of the abolitionists. The more important point, though, is that Weiss’s reaction to Jewish fear is patronizing. It’s not ‘firm but kind’ to call people hysterical, as Weiss does. It would only be normal for Jews to be strongly shaped by the Holocaust (and, yet, Weiss manages to exaggerate), and the proper psychotherapeutic response is not to degrade in such a way. Instead, I whink a proper response would have to include recognition that Jews need to feel empowerment and self-determination and that Jews are as entitled to political power as any other group.

  4. So, instead of the Israeli psychosis being induced by the most horrible genocide in history, which at least would be a halfway understandable reason, you say it’s being triggered by some minor loss of life which pales compared to the suffering just as recently by countless other nations, in several cases at Israel’s hands?

    Really, if this about the Intifada, then the response to Israeli society, as a collective (something I don’t really believe in) could only be: Stop whining and get your act together, you spoiled brats!
    And in any case: I’m sick of this being all about Israeli navel-watching. Your therapy needs are of no relevance to me. I don’t care in the slightest about how terribly torn Israeli society is over this and that. I’d be perfectly happy if Israel was like one of countless other OK, slightly forgettable countries like Belgium or Finland and only popped up in the news when offering some folkloristic entertainment or going through a financial crisis. And I’m not the only one.

    P.S.: And for the love of whatever deity you like, spare me how I’m not empathic with the poor terror victims. I said I’m tired of your navel-watching, dammit!

  5. Thanks, Koshiro. You just proved my point about the unremittingly anti-Israel left, with eloquence and passion. Couldn’t have said it better myself. “Minor loss of life,” huh? “Stop whining” because people are blown up in supermarkets and resturants and shopping malls, huh?

    I think it is important to understand the perspective of each side. If that’s naval-gazing, I plead guilty.

  6. Dan,

    Any people that lost a third of its number in a short time in a genocide would be affected for generations. And if that nation had the werewithal to act out against perceived enemies it would do so for some time. Just witness the American reaction to the comparatively fractional suffering of 9/11 that still continues.

    And any population that was subjected to decades of terrorism would also be very wary and would react to the extent it could. In Northern Ireland the Protestant unionists were subjected to republican terrorism for more than a quarter of a century. Because the British reaction after Bloody Sunday on Jan. 30, 1972 was judged to be too restrained the loyalist Ulster Defense Association sprang up as an umbrella group for neighborhood defense groups particularly in embattled outlying Protestant neighborhoods in North and West Belfast. Although outlawed eventually by the British government and rejected by the mainstream unionist parties in particular the Ulster Unionist Party, the loyalist terrorist groups were initially supported by the working-class populations of major cities such as Belfast and Derry.

    The loyalist working-class population of Northern Ireland can be compared to the Mizrakhim in Israel who inhabit urban ghettoes and development towns. One of the major differences between Israel and Northern Ireland is that Israel never developed Jewish terrorist groups comparable to the UDA and UVF, the closest equivalent was the Jewish Underground in the West Bank in the early 1980s.

    And Dan, I believe you confuse the settlement effort with the occupation. The occupation is quite legal and I would argue moral as well as long as the Palestinians continue to insist that any peace settlement involve an unlimited right of return for refugees. Believe me, if Germany had insisted on its right to return its refugees to the Central European countries from which they were expelled, Germany would still be under Allied occupation. But Germany, like India, Pakistan, and other countries accepted reality. When the Palestinians and the Israeli colonization movement accept reality there can be peace.

  7. Phil Weiss does NOT write in “good faith”. It is a tragedy for the Jewish people if indeed he is becoming “more influential”. Phil Weiss hates Jews and he hates Israel (and I think if you are all honest you will be aware that I have never said that about any other Jew at this site, although there is one other “progressive” Jew I could say that about.)
    I gave up looking at MONDOWEISS because the number of lies (or better, filthy lies) he and his partners spread there is beyond belief. His site is one of the biggest purveyors of antisemitism in cyberspace.
    I do find comfort in the fact that that dangerous organization, J-Street gave him and some fellow travellers official space at their national conference, because if they fell comfortable with enemies of Israel and the Jewish people such as Weiss, they will only discredit themselves more quickly with the large majority of Jews, regardless of their position on the issues regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict.

  8. I don’t think the main point of Weiss’ post is holocaust or intifada (the causes), but with fear, distrust, sorting out, and division (the results).

    His thesis is Zionism, regardless of its cause, resulted in “The fearful were granted power by the rest of the community.” Do you disagree with this statement?

    Also, Weiss gets plenty of criticism, but unfortunately, those who ‘read’ him second-hand, wouldn’t recognize these as his words:

    “I am part of the Jewish community, and feel solidarity with the Jews of Israel. And the best thing I can do for them now is to convey to them firmly but kindly, this is not the way to deal with other people, and many, many Jews have reached that understanding. You are isolating yourselves from the world, it is time to listen. Please.”

  9. “But he should understand that there are widows, widowers, orphans, maimed victims and justifiable fears on both sides of the conflict.”

    I agree with that.

    “I don’t meant to imply that they are always wrong when they deplore Israel for over-reacting to Palestinian provocations.”

    How generous of you. Palestinians do terrible things, Israelis over-react to their provocations. How about putting it this way–Israel does terrible things and it provokes the violence with its own violence, both the daily coercion of the occupation, the arbitrary sadism of the blockade, and in killings that often go unremarked in the West until an Israeli is killed (at which point violence is deemed to have begun).

    The second intifada started out with rocks on the one side versus live ammunition on the other. The relative death toll reflected that. The relative death toll dropped to a ratio of 3 dead Palestinians (the majority civilian) vs 1 dead Israeli (the majority civilian) with the suicide bombings.

    I agree that the suicide bombings were terrible, but Israel’s violence was worse and as the occupiers they are the aggressors. In the US the standard litany (as exemplifed by Obama’s Cairo speech) goes something like this–Israel should stop settlements and the Palestinians should stop their terrorism. How about both sides stopping their terrorism and Israel ceases practicing apartheid? Why do American politicians use harsh but accurate language about Palestinian atrocities and weasel words about Israeli violence?

    As for Koshiro’s remark, I agree he should acknowledge Israeli suffering, but I had no respect for America’s narcissism following 9/11 and none for Israel’s. Telling us that Palestinian terrorism helped destroy the Israeli peace camp during the second intifada tells me there wasn’t much of a peace camp to begin with–what did those pro-peace people think their side was doing to the Palestinians all that time?

  10. Donald, by the “peace camp” I was referring to ordinary people who wanted to end the occupation but also wanted to be sure Arafat or someone else would protect their personal safety and the safety of their loved ones and neighbors. When it became clear that Arafat would not or could not do that, they decided that Israel didn’t have a partner for peace. It is possible to believe that Israel is doing all of the things you suggest it is doing but still worry about personal safety and the safety of one’s loved ones and neighbors. Plenty of Israeli leftists, including post-Zionists, have those worries.

  11. Okay, Dan, I agree with comment 11. I was reacting to some of your wording in the original post.

    And anyone who lived in or near NYC right after 9/11 knows a little about paranoia. I don’t think it justifies insane militarism or self-righteousness, but plain old fear for oneself or one’s loved ones is entirely understandable.

  12. “I don’t think it justifies insane militarism or self-righteousness…”

    What is your definition of insane militarism?

    I would define it as militarism that has no or little connection with reality like the Arab belief in 1967 that they would destroy Israel. I would also agree that it applies to Sharon’s belief in 1982 that if Israel crushed the PLO militarily in Lebanon, this would make Palestinians complacent on the West Bank and they would quietly accept being part of Greater Israel. But reacting to lesser force with greater force is not insane. If a wolf decides to fight a bear, is the bear immoral for using the greater power in his possession?

  13. I was using the word “insane” to mean “immoral”, so that was imprecise on my part. Sometimes immoral violence works–the US acquired most of its territory this way. Immoral militarism is killing 1000 civilians in the Gaza War or 1000 civilians in the 2006 Lebanon War or… well, that’ll do for a start.

    In some alternate reality Israel could be an occupying power that did not colonize the West Bank and only used the force it had to use to protect its civilians while it searched for some solution that was fair or at least acceptable to both Palestinians and Israelis. That reality does not resemble the one we live in.

  14. “To Weiss and the rest of the unremittingly anti-Israel left, when Palestinian terrorism is mentioned at all, it is explained away as understandable resistance to the occupation.”

    This is oversimplified. You’re lumping into one category people who actually disagree with each other, either because you’re not paying attention or because it’s convenient to do so. There are two opposing tendencies at Mondoweiss, and among anti-Zionist lefties and for that matter, far lefties in general. You can certainly see this at Mondoweiss and it sometimes leads to nasty arguments among the anti-zionists in the comment section.

    One tendency (which I prefer, so my description is biased) is based on the notion of universal human rights. Members of this group are intensely critical of Israel, but they also reject terrorism as a legitimate tactic. Deliberate acts of violence against civilians is rejected, whether by the state or by guerillas.

    The opposite tendency is what I’d call the “by any means necessary” crowd, because that’s a phrase they use when they want to sound toughminded and defend terrorism. (Personally, I want to throw up when I see that phrase–it sounds just like the rationalizations Israel defenders use for their favorite crimes.)

    Now there are members of the first group who will say they understand why oppressed people use terrorism, but still say it is wrong. That’s not apologetics, or it doesn’t have to be. Besides, it applies to both sides. One can understand why Zionists used terrorism in the 30’s and 40’s without condoning it.

    There are also people who defend some forms of violence by Palestinians, but not violence aimed at civilians and others who say it’s all wrong because it just makes things worse. There are people who reject terrorism, but applaud hitting Israeli commandos with metal rods. But this post is long enough.

  15. ““Minor loss of life,” huh? “”
    Yes. Indeed.
    Really, if you believe that the Israeli loss of life in the Intifada is grounds for the amount of Israeli national autism we see now, you can right now give up on any true peace between Israel and the Palestinians for, conservatively estimated, the next 100 years. Because, you see, if you grant Palestinians an amount of national autism proportionate to *their* losses – which of course you do, since they are human beings just like the Israelis, right? – this at least is the time it’ll take.

    But this kind of tit-for-tat is misleading. There are countless other examples of nations getting their act together and coming to terms in spite of far, far, far greater suffering still. Case in point, ironically: The Holocaust. 20 years after the end of WW2, Israel commenced official diplomatic relations with Germany. As in formerly-ruled-by Hitler, killed-6-million-Jews Germany. (Many minor officials of Nazi Germany working in the German government at that time, btw.)

  16. The experience of Israelis is not stimulated by a single event or period(as the experience of Palestinians is also not stimulated by a single event).

    The harrassment has been mutual for a long time, and the only remedy to that is intentional efforts at mutual humanization.

    Adopting a justification for one side harrassing other human beings (as distinct from defending) is what keeps the machine running along.

    For all the accusations of navel-gazing, that is the critical work, to identify what is important to humanely assert, NOT to justify rage and the relaxation of rage as the definition of “justice”.

  17. In a fundamental sense, the fanatics of the Israeli right and the fanatics of the Palestinian right and the fanatics of the solidarity on both sides (that fail to acknowledge the humanity of the other), dance together.

    The polarity is between fanaticism and moderation, not between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine.

    Tangible conflicts can be reconciled by those intending to. Tangible conflicts can not be reconciled by those unwilling to.

  18. The incessant campaign to delegitimize the Jewish State, to other her, is another factor that I believe more and more is uniting Israelis, and is dividing the Jewish community in this country between those who will reflexively defend Israel, and those who will not. But more and more of those who will not reflexively support Israel will reflexively condemn her, and that condemnation is the product of another fear, a long-standing fear among us, the fear that those whom we live with will reject us and send us packing. This is perhaps the oldest fear we know, right?

    There are fewer and fewer realistic doves, fewer and fewer of those of us who crave the two-state solution in our kishkas, but who nonetheless do not fear the consequences of recognizing and supporting the legitimacy of the Jewish State, and calling those masquerading as lovers of peace in the form of a mondoweiss and his like-minded ilk.

  19. Richard said:
    In a fundamental sense, the fanatics of the Israeli right and the fanatics of the Palestinian right and the fanatics of the solidarity on both sides (that fail to acknowledge the humanity of the other), dance together.

    The polarity is between fanaticism and moderation, not between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine.

    Your repitition of this tired canard tells me that years after the collapse of the Oslo “peace3 process” you still do not really understand what is going on. Rabin and Peres tried this tact when they foisted Oslo on Israel. They claimed that the average secular Ashkenazi Israeli’s natural ally was not his fellow Jew of different religious or political identity, but rather the “secular, pragmatic moderates of FATAH”. NO ONE in Israel, including true believers like Yossi Sarid or Yossi Beilin makes this claim any more.
    No FATAH person would say he is closer to any Israeli Jew in outlook than he is to his HAMAS brother. Their spokesmen say this all the time, even if they are prepared at the same time to lock up HAMAS people. Their argument is over who gets to pocket the aid money coming in, and over how much Sharia law should be imposed on the population, not over basic identity or the political aims of their movement. FATAH people are Arab-Muslim Palestinians and they view that as their overriding identity. They would never view themselves as having joint goals as Israeli Jews.
    I recall you have regaled us with stories in the past about anecdotal Palestinians who believe in peace and the “2-state” solution, but there is no doubt they view this as a temporary way station on the way to Israeli either being eradicated by outside forces or by simply dissolving itself.
    Time to wake up. You can do this by first seeing what the Palestinian leaders say IN ARABIC to their own people.

  20. I note that Palestinian leaders say different things to their people and some allies, that is considerably different than Israelis.

    Have you seen Netanyahu’s proclamations over the past year, what he’s said to Obama and the EU, compared to what he says in Hebrew to party rallies?

    The question is of what is possible and what is desired.

    If peace is desired, then peace is constructable. I hope you’ve bothered to read what Fayyad says in public and to westerners and compare that to what he says to Palestinians. Its slightly different, but that is due more to the different audiences than any deception. I’ve never heard the deception that you describe associated with Abbas. I’ve been following his comments for a decade, and definitely noted periods of change of nuance, but not of substance.

    Palestinians are treated very poorly. I look at that and the best that I experience is fundamental confusion.

    The statement “the land is ours, God gave it to us”, does not satisfy to resolve that confusion. That seems to me to be rationalization for theft, coveting possessions.

    The statement “they intend to harm us, we can’t turn our backs” is true, the we can’t turn our backs part at least certainly, except that suppression is a different beast than turning one’s backs. It an offense, not a defense, especially when accompanied by settlement expansion, which is nowhere defense by any rational definition.

    Make peace with those that are willing to make peace, and they are many, if you bother to look.

  21. YBD and Richard,

    Terrorist leaders often say different things to different audiences–they are, after all, politicians. This is something that Netanyahu was also notorious for in his last time as prime minister and it cost him the support of many key people in the Likud. Depending on how one looks at it when a politician makes contradictory promises to different people he is either lying to some of them (he has no intention to keeping the promise to certain individuals), he is lying to none of them (he doesn’t know whom he will disappoint and so is making the promise in what for politicians passes for good faith), or he is lying to all of them (he is willing to double cross any of them. Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness were guilty of the last type of lying throughout the NI peace process and I believe that Arafat might have been as well at the start of the peace process. While what a politician says to his own people is important, he is not necessarily telling the truth to them and lying to the foreigners–he could be lying to both or making statements that are conditional on circumstances.

  22. Tom-
    Arafat was very truthful to his own people. I don’t think he ever lied to them. When he signed the Oslo Agreement he made it clear that it was temporary. This was stated openly in speeches he made in Stockholm and Johannesburg. They reached Israel and some people tried to raise public awareness of Arafat’s duplicity, but the “peace process” Mafia said the usual “well, you know Arabs, you can’t believe what they say”, in other words he is like an Israeli politician…he lies to his own people and tells the truth to outsiders”. Arafat also said clearly to his people that he would be making statements to outsiders that seem to contradict his committment to the Palestinian Revolution, but they could rely on him. He promised them a war against Israel and he delivered it.

    I also assume that Abbas is telling the truth to his people and I discount what he tells Israelis, Jews and other outsiders.

  23. It seems like several of the commenters are missing the point. As I read it, the post isn’t about whether Palestinian suicide bombings and rocket attacks are in some sense worse than the occupation and Israeli military actions, an issue we’re never going to come to a consensus on. (Though the comments that think the answer can be determined simply by comparing casualty figures come off as, dare I say, a little bit autistic.)

    The real point is that empathy for the victims of the occupation is always going to be outweighed by security concerns. If you don’t think any Palestinian government can credibly commit to a reasonable level of peace for you and yours, you’re not going to acquiesce to a low-level war as the price for doing the right thing by the Palestinians.

    There are several good responses to this: That Israel’s actions aren’t, in fact, improving the security situation; that the Palestinians can, in fact, rein in rejectionist elements; that Israelis aren’t sufficiently attuned to the suffering of Palestinians. There’s also several bad responses, like dismissing Israeli fears as navel-gazing and whinging about “minor loss of life.” When your goal depends in part on evoking the sympathies of Israelis, dismissing the second Intifada is pretty dumb. If everyone decides to be a Thrasymakhos, then the Palestinians are going to lose, every time. (It’s not a surprise that the only ones—besides Koshiro, apparently—who want the international community to ignore Israel and pretend it’s a Belgium or a Finland are people on the right.)

  24. Yakov,
    What Abbas tells his own people is nearly identical to what he tells Obama and Netanyahu, as does Fayyad.

    I also speak of Israel as temporary (as is the US in its current form, 15 times its original size), but not in the sense that it should be destroyed, but that realities change over time.

  25. YBD:

    You cite a speech by Arafat in Johannesburg as speaking to “his people.” He was speaking to locals? How do you define “his people?” And he was I believe speaking in English, not Arabic. So according to your rules this speech should be disregarded.

  26. “(Though the comments that think the answer can be determined simply by comparing casualty figures come off as, dare I say, a little bit autistic.)”

    This is condescending rubbish.

    When the I/P conflict is discussed in the US (in Obama’s speeches, frex), the usual phrasing is that Israelis need to stop the settlements and the Palestinians need to cease their terrorism. The message here is quite clear–only one side is violent towards civilians. So it seems appropriate whenever someone brings up suicide bombing to point out which side actually kills the bulk of the civilians.

    And on top of the killing, the Israelis also impose the day-to-day humiliation and oppression that comes with occupation. An Israeli who has lost loved ones to terror has suffered as much as anyone, but when you compare the actions of the two sides there’s no serious doubt which side has inflicted more harm. It’s “autistic” to pretend otherwise.

    “When your goal depends in part on evoking the sympathies of Israelis, dismissing the second Intifada is pretty dumb. ”

    Part of the goal should be to bring Israelis back into the world of reality. At the start of the intifada virtually all the killing was done by Israelis. Then came the suicide bombing which was terrible–no question–but pointing out that even with those atrocities the Israelis were still doing the bulk of the civilian killing is something that has to be pointed out. If Israelis can’t wrap their heads around this, it’s hard to see why they should be willing to make peace. If one accepts the one-sided view of the conflict that many Israeli defenders seem to have, their opposition to a peace treaty with the Palestinians logically follows. How can one make peace when your side only kills to protect itself and the other side murders children?

  27. Donald, I’m sorry the jewish body count wasn’t up to an acceptable level for you. Maybe next time.

    Rich, if you and Tom tell me your fluent in arabic then you can expound about what the palestinian leaders tell the masses. But if your not I rely on MEMRI. And its pretty much what you’d expect in the “lets kill the jews and drink their blood” department.

  28. YBD,

    No, I don’t know what you mean. Your definitions seem to be endlessly elastic in order to make your points.

  29. Yakov,
    The same logic applies to rational support of Israel, that it ends up supporting Israel’s fascists.

    Its important to speak, otherwise critical observations and possibilities are ignored by the mechanically thinking.

    Again and again, I challenge you to use your imagination to create good relations with those that it is possible to.

    Not passive.

    Don’t be convinced of impossibility. That is tiredness, not impossibilty.

  30. Tom,
    Part of my sense of Yakov’s commentary is review of the past, an attempt to convince himself that past decisions were in fact justifiable.

    But, I don’t see the articulation of criteria to measure that, either in the past or in the future.

    This event had this effect. Was that desirable? Was another outcome possible, even subtlely different?

  31. YBD:

    I read the article–the link is to an article about “salami tactics”–and was reminded of Israeli governments from 1984-92. Honig mentions terrorists that Arafat could disown. Shamir had Likud ministers that he could disown. He could officially support the “Shamir plan” (actually developed by Rabin) while letting the constraints ministers (Sharon, Levy, Modi’ai) fight against it within the party without lifting a finger in support of it. Thereby dooming it to failure. And salami tactics is a pretty good description of the Israeli settlement effort in the territories. The territories are never annexed but simply settled bit by bit, often by “hilltop youth” who can easily be disowned.

    Earlier this afternoon I was thinking about how to reconcile such divergent opinions about Bibi by analysts of Israeli politics. Neill Lochery sees him as a pragmatist, but Colin Shindler and Ilan Peleg see him as a loyal Likudnik, albeit more of a throwback to Jabotinsky than Begin. Then it came to me. Netanyahu behaves like Arafat. He speaks moderately to Obama, while speaking defiantly to Jewish audiences. He doesn’t deliver on his promises and blames internal pressures that are a threat to his survival. Classic Arafat tactics from 1995-96. But because he has to speak in English to American Jewish audiences, this act is not as easy to pull off for Bibi as for Arafat.

  32. Dan,

    On the one hand, I can appreciate the revulsion and fear terrorist bombings create. But you do not address the psychological impact of Israeli violence on Palestinians.

    If your logic is followed…how could any Palestinian assume there is a peace partner on the Israeli side?

    Any clarification would be appreciated.

  33. There is no question that Palestinians are traumatized and that different Palestinians and solidarity have interpreted that trauma differently, and sought remedies in different forms.

    Most Palestinians know that the presence and encouragement of militancy has stalled prospects for peace, especially those militants that are competing with one another to be the most effective “resistance” for internal partisan street cred.

    Leadership, real leadership, looks deeper.

  34. For all you “progressives” who are moaning about the “Likud government” in power, now, in the wake of the government’s capitulation regarding the blockade on Gaza and HAMAS’ big victory, just keep the following in mind:

    It was the Likud that gave the Sinai, every inch of it to Sadat.

    It was the Likud that went into Lebanon in 1982 and as a result brought HIZBULLAH to power.

    It was the Likud that destroyed Gush Katif, threw 9000 Jews out of their homes and brought HAMAS to power.

    It was the Likud (this current government) that agreed to a complete freeze on building in settlements in Judea/Samaria.

    It was the Likud (this current government) that agreed to an informal freeze on building Jewish housing in east Jerusalem.

    It was the Likud that unilaterally ended the blockade on Gaza without any reciprocal gesture from HAMAS regarding Gilad Shalit on any other such gesture.

    Maybe Barak carried out the flotilla raid KNOWING that it would cause a backlash and would force Israel to capitulate. Maybe Barak carried out the massive bombing of Gaza in the “Cast Lead” operation war KNOWING it would lead to Goldstone and massive condemnation of Israel. Barak himself said recently Israel needs to make concessions in order “end our international isolation”.

    Maybe you “progressives” should show a little patience and allow Israeli governments BOTH of the Left and Right (we now see there is no difference between them) to continue to destroy the country. Maybe we “Right-wingers” should wake up, realize that the Likud is a failure, stop voting for them and try, try, try to come up with a real alternative to the suicidal group in power (which transcends party affiliation) which is leading Israel to perdition.

  35. Interesting advocacy of expansion.

    If your views are anything beyond a fringe perspective, then Israel will be a single state within a decade.

    And, then it will choose between democracy or some wierd neo-religious autarchy of violently feuding rabbinic constituencies, in the name of being a “light unto the nations”, a “nation of priests”.

    Do you believe Yakov that peace is distant and that Israel should be patient and vigilant,

    or that peace is impossible,

    or that peace is possible and that Israel can enhance the possibility by its actions?

    Or, do you believe that the river to sea vision (or larger) is the critical objective and everything else is subordinate?

    Please be honest.

  36. Don,

    I did not address the psychological impact of Israeli violence on Palestinians because I was focusing on a gap in the far left’s rhetoric about –and understanding of–the conflict. Of course there is fear and mistrust on both sides. Compared to the Israelis, the Palestinians have even less reason to trust that there is a credible peace partner on the other side. That’s the tragedy. Polls show both sides want peace but large majorities on both sides don’t believe they have a partner.

  37. Here is a good column confirming what I said above…the current government in power is NOT a “right-wing Likudnik” coalition. The people making the decisions are Barak and Peres, and Netanyahu is the “front-man” used to keep the “Right-wing” quiescent. As you see, it makes no difference who wins the election, the same people and the same policies are always in place….

  38. YBD,

    Barak is only one member of the “Forum of Seven,” Peres is not even a member. So was it Peres or Barak who was responsible for Lieberman’s assistant trying to humiliate the Turkish ambassador several months ago?

    You are a right-wing populist with little understanding of democracy and are upset because Netanyahu can’t completely embrace your prejudices. It seems that Israel may have interests beyond the settlers on the West Bank.

  39. The “Forum of Seven” is a formality, as is the Knesset. Sort of like how the Soviet Politburo operated as against the official “government” of the USSR. Official positions did not necessarily reflect actual power. I don’t say that the “Forum of Seven” doesn’t do anything, but actual decisions are based IMHO on Netanyahu, Peres and Barak. Netanyahu can not do anything without the approval of the other two. How else can you explain the official settlement freeze in Judea/Samaria and the unofficial freeze in east Jerusalem coming from a supposedly “right-wing” government?
    Similar with the Knesset….it does have power to divide budgets among various constituents and the such, and to make laws regarding innocuous things like road safety, the environment, etc, but it has no say in real national issues…that is how Sharon got a majority “right-wing” Knesset to destroy Gush Katif. Tom, I am suprised you are so uninformed about how Israel really works. Don’t you see all the judicial harrassment of public officials and how these things hang over everyone who doesn’t follow the line of those that really have the power?

  40. YBD,

    I guess my education is severely deficient, I studied at Hebrew University rather than at Bar-Ilan or at one of the settler colleges in Ariel. I never thought of Sharon as a man of the Left or that Algeria is the paragon of democracy. All the wonders that I learn from the respondents at this blog.

  41. Tom-
    I have lived in Israel for 24 years. My perspective is different than yours. You hung around people who identified with the “Establishment” in Israel which is always congratulating itself how it is supposedly committed to the “rule of law” and how “progressive” and “democratic” it is. Also your views are in tune more or less with the “Establishment” print and electronic media. It is true I identify with the political “Right” and the “settlers” and I have seen much that shows that these things are FALSE. I have, from personal knowledge, seen how the “Establishment” media LIES about what is going on in Judea/Samaris, both with the Arabs and with the Jews. We have seen endless examples of illegal and unconstitutional judicial and police harrassment of activists. I have had numerous friends and acquaitances beaten up by the police when they were involved in PEACEFUL protests.

    Regarding the political elite in Israel – I will suffice with one example….have you ever noticed how many people who crossed Shimon Peres have, over the years, ended up killing themselves, or being shot by someone else, or ending up in jail? Did you see how Peres, already in the late 1990’s announced he wanted to be President of Israel and how TWO of the men who were in that position had criminal charges brought against them on the flimsiest evidence, just so the position could be vacated? I am sure you will say it is all “coincidence”. I am not convinced.

  42. Its a distraction Yakov.

    You rationalize your inability to even consider which of the Palestinian claims and/or needs are valid, and which of the Palestinian representatives for those claims and/or needs are respectable and realiable.

    Peace is both gradual and dramatic (final treaty). It is constructed by the gradual, by the establishment of relations, the development of relative and increasing trust.

    It is destroyed by the rationalization that nothing is possible, that I can do nothing, that we can nothing to create a good neighbor to good neighbor policy.

    The specific siting of settlements was intentional, and the siting of expansion of settlements is intentional, which INCLUDES the intention of dividing the region to make a Palestinian self-governance impossible.

    By now it should be obvious that neither Israelis nor Palestinians are disappearing, and that a health neighbor is a better neighbor than a desparate one, and it is not solely “their responsibility” especially if your policies deliberately contribute to your neighbor’s poverty.

    You are here for a purpose, on the planet, on this site. That you engage in this political discussion puts you in the population of those that are engaged with their neighbors, their non-Jewish neighbors. No pretense of isolation possible.

    The question is of how then for you. How will you engage with your neighbors, your Jewish liberal peace-seeking ones here, your Palestinian ones in your actual neighborhood (even if a wall or fence between), and by policy.

    If you don’t like the way things were done in the past, YOU do something new. Don’t hide away.

  43. Richard-
    Let me make this clear to you. In my worldview, the best thing for the Palestinians is the implementation of the policies I advocate. I know that sounds off the wall to you and the other “progressives”, but it is a fact. I had a long discussion with a settler friend of mine who has extensive business dealings with a Palestinian industrialist. He told him his business contacts with SETTLERS has made his business profit far more than if he did not utilize such contacts. Again, I am talking about business contacts between SETTLERS (and not just other Israeli JewsO).

    This is because simply thrusting a state on them that will be corrupt and repressive will end up bringing more misery on the Palestinian. This is exactly what happened with Oslo and the unilateral destruction of Gush Katif. The Palestinians got terrible regimes thrust on them. All the roadblocks that interfere with Palestinian movement came AFTER the “peace process” got started…under pre-1993 full Israeli “occupation” they had almost completely free movement and much more economic flexibility. Oslo and the HAMAS take-over in Gaza led to a massive dependence of the Palestinian population on handouts given in return for coerced political support to Iran or other terrorist entities.
    Simply giving the Palestinians a “state” and then having it end up as some sort of either Saddamist or Islamic dictatorship is NOT peace, but the Israeli “Left” seems to be stuck on the mantra of “get rid of the settlements, pull out and everything will be okay”. We have already seen that doesn’t work and is not doing the Palestinians a favor.

    Hong Kong thrived under 150 years of British Colonialist “occupation”. Thus we see that “occupation” is not necessarily an obstacle to a thriving society, and if the Palestinians should ever be ableo to live in real peace with Israel, then their political aspirations can be met in a spirit of good will without Israel giving up its rights. But as long as the Arab ambition to eradicate Israel exists, there can not be peace in the way the “progressives” want.

  44. You should be ashamed of that last post Yakov.

    You speak about one businessman that a friend of yours spoke to, rather than find out for yourself, objectively, actually seeking to find out.

    It is cowardly to isolate yourself from reality to that extent. If you didn’t want to read and to comment, you could go along remaining ignorant of the lives of others, and effect on others of Israel’s, settlers’ and your actions.

    But you choose to “dialog” about this. There are actually relevant points that you make regarding some of the specific requirements that might add up to a secure peace.

    But, thats as far as you go.

    I spoke about developing relationships, not the formulaic state only, though that would realize great human progress in itself.

    You have a friend who does business with a Palestinian, and likely has other communications besides just business. Why don’t you? Why have you chosen to not see for yourself?

    Pride in accomplishment (a state), rather than dependance and/or subordination is a great experience, and a great factor in maturation.

    What do you think of Fayyad? Yes, he periodically attends some demonstrations protesting the wall/fence. But, he also determinedly and responsibly builds Palestinian institutions.

    Is that nothing? Is that nobody?

  45. Here is an article about the resignation of the Australian Prime Minister in the middle of his term:

    You may ask, what does this have to do with Israel? Plenty. Note how Rudd was ousted by his own party. Recall now how Thatcher and Blair in the UK were also ousted by their own parties. See how Gordon Brown resigned as Labour Party leader after losing the recent election there. In Europe and the formerly British dominions, if a party leader loses, he is out , and we see in this case above, even if he wins he can be removed if he becomes unpopular.

    Now compare this with Israel. Barak has badly lost the last two elections he led the Labor Party in. Yet, he is still the head. Peres lost FIVE elections in a row and yet he stayed in. This shows that the political parties DO NOT have any real basis of support in the population. It is true that there are “primaries” in many of the political parties, but the voters are NOT people who identify with the party nor do they vote for it in the general elections. They are recruited by “vote contractors” to sign up for the primaries, their members fees often illegally paid for by the various candidates they are supposed to vote for. Large labor unions also pull this trick. This is why the Israeli political parties are essentially unrepresentative of their voters true wishes. The true political power in Israel is held by a shadowy group of people who come from the military establishment, the wealthy tycoons, the “rule of law” mafia (i.e. the police and state prosecutors office plus the Supreme Court) and the media, the last two having the ability to destroy the life of any person in the country they want to. All the parties dance to their tune.
    Obviously there is some recognition by this group that public opinion must be served to some extent. If the “Right” wins an election (as was the case currently) they do have some ability to influence policy. I don’t claim to understand exactly how power is used in Israel, but one must understand that Israel is not just a miniature version of the US or similar to a European democracy in order to try to comprehend how decisions are made.

  46. Ya’akov,

    I think its rather presumptuous of you to pretend to know the thinking of my acquaintances. When I was a student in Israel I knew people whose politics varied from Ratz and even Rakakh on the Left to Kach on the Right. While most of my colleagues from my department, as far as I could tell were Labor supporters, my closest personal contacts were with a guy from the Bronx who was a Kachnik and Likud supporter, a very early Soviet immigrant who today would probably be a Lieberman supporter, and a Likudnik who was a disciple of Milton Friedman. I did my own thinking.

    When I want to read about Israeli politics I consult actual political scientists like Asher Arian, Michal Shamir, Gideon Doron, Don Peretz, and Neill Lochery, et al. People who get their heavily referenced articles published in refereed academic journals. People who actually have to prove their claims. Not the Israeli version of the Tea Party movement.

    If you are going to talk about serial election losers don’t forget Begin. But the definition of losing and winning in the Israeli system is different than in the American or British first-past-the-post system. Gaining power in Israel isn’t an all or nothing proposition.

  47. Tom,
    Be honest. How well do you know the National Religious (or, more specifically the religious Judea/Samaria community), or the Haredim, or the mainline development town population and how they think? Although you did have contact with some anecdotal “right-wingers” the general enviroment you were in was closely connected with the “Establishment” and its values and those of the media that supports it. Although I don’t know the scholars you mentioned, they are probably part of the same system. I did see the nonsense my children in high school were required to learn for what Americans would call “civics class” and they would talk about theoretical “democracy” in Israel without any relationship to the reality we see around us.
    Did you listen to Abie Nathan’s “Voice of Peace” when you were there? I’ll bet you did. It was an illegal radio station. Nathan was never prosecuted for running the station. However when the Judea/Samaria people set up Arutz 7 it was eventually forcibly shut down (by the “right-wing” Ariel Sharon whom they foolishly supported for years) and its propietors convincted of criminal charges of running an “illegal” station, although unlike Nathan’s station, its transmitter operated in international waters-a legal “gray area”. When the Attorney General Rubinstein was asked why they were prosecuted when Nathan never was (his station had shut down by that time) Rubinstein replied “we have to start somewhere!”, and so naturally, they start with the “Right”. When Nathan died Shimon Peres eulogized him by saying somthing to the effect of “thank you Abie for not listening to us when we told you not to break the law”. There you have it…the double standards of the “Establishment” in Israel.

    There was a public opinion poll published a few days ago that said the Supreme Court approval rating by the population at large was somewhere in the 30% plus range. 20 years ago it was around 90%. A major factor given was the Left-wing political bias of the court and its Aharon Barak legacy of “judicial activism” which have gotten worse in the last 20 years. SO you see that a majority of the population sees how anti-democratic the system is here and it is reflected in loss of respect for the various political institutions of the country (the Knesset is even lower and even the sacrosanct IDF has dropped in the confidence level of the population, although it is still higher than the others I mentioned.

  48. YBD,

    I’m not surprised that the same person who purports to tell me what “the Arabs” think, now presumes to tell me what I think. Actually, you were not long ago recommending one of Neill Lochery’s books.

    Yes, Barak has influence out of proportion to the size of his party’s mandate. But this is because he is the only figure in the government that has credibility with the Washington establishment, which you presumable like even less. Barak fills the same function as Dayan and Yadin did for the first Begin government from 1977-80. Begin then pushed them and Weizman out of the way.

    I don’t necessarily agree with the Bagatz. I don’t agree with many of the rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court and the logic used to reach them. But one of the functions of a supreme court in a democracy is to apply international law, particularly that of treaties that the country is a signatory to.

    You seemed to insinuate that Peres deliberately had Weizman and his successor indicted and forced to step down. Weizman, like Dayan, had a reputation of skirting the law and living by his own rules. Did Peres also have Haim Ramon and the former leader of the Centre Party indicted and prosecuted for sexual assault as well? Sexual assault, at least in the military and political class, seems to be epidemic in Israel. You pull these out of context to weave your conspiracy theories. You think just like an Arab or an Iranian–using conspiracy theories rather than rational explanations to explain reality to yourself and anyone who is foolish enough to listen to you. If the Left in Israel is so all powerful, why are the Hilltop Youth still building illegal settlements and not being cracked down upon?

    You are right, I don’t personally know any ultra-Orthodox.

  49. I do know quite a few ultra-orthodox. My son is one.

    They have varying opinions and wade through conflicting (and often opportunistically selected) different inferences in Torah, and statements by respected rabbis.

    Yakov still FAILS the challenge to consider how he and his colleagues can realize humane relations with his neighbors, and political peace.

  50. Tom,
    Yes, Peres did those things. Did you forget Rabin’s infamous illegal bank account that surfaced in 1977? I’ll remind you of the circumstances….the period was before the national elections of 1977. The Labor Party Central Committee voted between Peres and incumbent PM Rabin who would lead the party in the elections. Rabin won a narrow victory. Amazingly, a few days later, someone in the police or state prosecutor’s office slipped journalist Dan Marglit information about the illegal bank account. What a coincidence.

    Regarding Weizman, news reports were being spread in the media that “he was going to resign due to ill health”. Obviously he didn’t take the hint and his office explicitly denied the reports. Within a couple of days the reports on the bribes he took from Seroussi were leaked and that was the end of him. However, Peres lost the vote in the Knesset because Barak (PM at the time) didn’t want him breathing down his neck. So Peres bided his time and then did the same to Katsav in order to get him out of office, and this time it worked.

    I am not saying the victims of these things are innocent. I am saying that criminal activity of people in “the Elite” can be overlooked until someone wants to get rid of them and then the authorities go into the “GET SOMETHING ON HIM” mode. Or as someone in the NKVD once said “you give me the man, and I’ll give you the charges”.

    Regarding Haim Ramon, he was a known opponent of Dorit Beinish (currently head Justice of the Supreme Court). He was telling everyone openly that he expected to be charged with some crime while he was Justice Minister (the same was done to an opponent of Aharon Barak, the then Justice Minister Ne’eman who was also charged with a crime in order to force him out of office. He was later acquitted, but that didn’t matter anymore). Ramon, being an idiot, played right into their hands and did the kiss. It was reported openly in the media that the woman involved didn’t want to bring charges, viewing it as a harmless kiss. The police tracked her down in Central America and told her that SHE would be charged with a crime if she didn’t bring charges against Ramon. So that was that.

    Of course, Tom, if you want to keep wearing rose-colored glasses about the “Establishment” in Israel, go ahead and convince yourself these are all coincidences and the Police and State Prosecutor’s Office are all noble, clean, uncorruptible public servants. But at least half the public in Israel agrees with me. So does Ha’aret journalist Ari Shavit.

  51. Ya’akov,
    I can believe that Peres might have tipped off Margalit about Leah Rabin’s bank account, because they were bitter rivals and it would have been in character, especially in 1977. But Weizman and Peres were political allies. Weizman and Rabin were enemies. Remember, it was Weizman who leaked the information about Rabin’s “breakdown” in May 1967 to Peres. So if anyone got rid of Weizman it would naturally be more likely to have been Leah Rabin, who had nothing nice to say about Weizman in her biography of her husband. And you still haven’t attempted to explain the indictment of former MG Yitzhak Mordechai, also for sexual assault.

  52. Tom-
    Weizman had been in the Likud and at one time had been a “right-winger”. Things like that are not forgiven quickly, EVEN if they repented and then supported the Left. Aryeh Deri is a case in point. Even though his support of Oslo was crucial, in the end he was still a Haredi and Sefardic and so he was fair game for reprisal after his failing to make Peres PM in 1990 (the so-called “stinking maneuver”).
    Peres simply wanted Weizman’s job. It wasn’t just “vengeance”, the fact was that he wasn’t prosecuted. It was enough that he resigned. Dan Margalit himself wondered why Weizman wasn’t prosecuted because the amount of bribes he took was FAR beyond what lesser politicians had been accused of and been sent to prison for. This was because you are correct, Peres didn’t really “hate” Weizman.

    The Itzik Mordechai case is something of a puzzle. I am not sure why he was prosecuted. They simply chewed him up and spit him out. He could have possibly been PM had he remained in the Likud, but they convinced him to help bring down Netanyahu, made him the head of the “Center Party”. Once the elections were over and it was clear he didn’t bring many votes to them (they only got 6 seats after they had been talking about 15) they didn’t need him any more so they decided to slap him down, I guess. Interestingly enough, just like the Ramon case, the woman who brought charges against him tried to withdraw them but the court refused to accept it! (all of this was in the media). Again, as a Sefardi, he was fair game, he was not “one of us”. If you think this is “paranoia” I will remind you of the famous newspaper wiretapping case. It was clear in the 1990’s that the newspapers were wiretapping each other-they would have identical front pages. There were 3 big magnates-Shocken (Ha’aretz), Nimrodi (Ma’ariv) and Mozes (Yediot). They were all investigated supposedly, and surpise of surprises, the only one who was charged and ultimately went to jail was Nimrodi who was the only Sefardi of the group. ( I might remind you that, again, if you think this is paranoia, that with recent discussion of “racism” in Israel, it was pointed out that only 1 of 15 Supreme Court justices if Sefardi, as an example).

    Look, I don’t claim to understand how the sytem works here. You say that I am falling for “conspiracy theories” (I actually am very skeptical of them). I am simply pointing out facts that are known to the public. If you want believe like all the “hasbaraists” the “progressives” are always denouncing that Israel is a “thriving democracy” and that all governmental bodies are manned by people who are all honest and would never dream of harrassing political enemies with “the law” or slandering them unjustly in the media, just go ahead. Most Israelis know the truth.

  53. Clearly,
    The establishment in Israel is its military, far far more than its history.

    If you wish to define yourself as a contributor to intellectual discourse, you’d have to think for yourself. Corruption is endemic in Israel, thick in every agency, every administration.

    To the extent that it is close to a norm, and in far far too many communities, not just bureaucracies.

    And, still the challenge that Israelis face, in addition to the third-world challenge of removing corrupt application of bureaucracies and administration, is to make peace.

    Yakov continually ignores the prospect of improving relations with his neighbors, with real people, real communities.

    If you are going to speak about politics, defense is not enough. How its conducted, and what other parties are affected is also.

    If you are considering a revolution within Israel, say if it actually proceeds towards establishment of a Palestinian state, you know well that that weakens Israel.

  54. Ya’akov,

    I believe that Israel is a very dysfunctional democracy. This is because it has a partistaat as in Weimar Germany or the French Third and Fourth Republics. It also has a high degree of corruption. But this is typical of young democracies, especially those in immigrant societies where the population is rapidly expanding. In the U.S. corruption was endemic from the 1840s through the Gilded Age of the 1890s. The Democratic Party was notoriously corrupt in this period and the Know Nothings that emerged as an anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant nativist movement quickly became corrupt as well. The Democrats made deals with Irish, German and other immigrant leaders. Today they make those deals with Hispanic leaders. And then the Republican Party became infected as witnessed by the Grant administration and subsequent administrations.

    South Africa under the National Party after 1948 was also very corrupt. This is because the social engineering of the apartheid system gave plenty of scope for corruption. Apartheid was a case of ethnic socialism with massive parastatal corporations and an autarkic economy. India had similar problems.

    Instead of analysing Israel comparatively in terms of the conditions that promote corruption you indulge in the simplistic demagoguery of Sefardi vs Ashkenazi. If you were in Iraq you would be explaining everything in terms of the Sunni establishment or the Shias.

    Israel is unique in that it is an immigrant society in which at least 90 percent (probably well over 95 percent) of the immigrants came from countries that weren’t democratic at the time that they emigrated from them. It could easily have ended up like either a typical Middle Eastern country or the worst type of East European country. Instead it became similar to the emerging East European democracies decades before these became democracies.

  55. Tom-
    Here’s a timely article about the State Controller uncovering malfeasance by the State Prosecutor’s Office in the Haim Ramon affair. As you can see, it was not merely “pursuit of justice” that motivated them, it was GET SOMETHING ON HIM QUICK! (and mind you, I do not like Ramon at all).

    Regarding the “Ashkenazi-Sefardi” discrimination that exists in the “Elite” or “Establishment” of the country….I agree that it sounds bizarre in this day and age, yet the tribalistic instincts of those at the top are still very much alive, apparently. When the current brouhaha about supposed Haredi “racism” broke out recently, it was pointed out that there are very few Sefardim in the top levels of the “Elite” (e.g. the Supreme Court, the universities, etc) so, as strange at it seems, these attitudes still persist.
    Ran Cohen of MERETZ (the most “progressive” Zionist party around) pointed out how much racism he encountered when he ran for the leadership of that party a couple of years ago. People kept saying “he’s not one of us” even though he had impeccable Marxist credentials (he had been in the far Left MOKED party) and came from a Kibbutz.

  56. This is quite an interesting post, Dan. And many comments are also interesting…here are just a few comments about Phillip Weiss…

    Matt – “Weiss’s reaction to Jewish fear is patronizing”

    Aaron – “There’s no way that someone as intelligent as Weiss could believe a theory as stupid as “Holocaust psychosis” if he were being honest with himself.”

    Y Ben-David – “Phil Weiss does NOT write in “good faith””

    And a relevant comment from Dan Fleshler about his post “I was focusing on a gap in the far left’s rhetoric about –and understanding of–the conflict.”

    So I want to ask Dan, Aaron, Matt and Mr. Ben-David…given Weiss’s obviously sinister motives…what accounts for the single most prominent Jewish journalist (at least in terms of specifically Jewish publications) in the United States…Leonard Fein…coming to precisely the same conclusion as Philip Weiss?

    And would any of you feel comfortable accusing Fein of the same things you accuse Weiss? Here is the link to Fein’s letter (itself a reply to an article by Roger Cohen in the NY Times), in which letter Fein accuses Cohen of insensitivity for NOT recognizing the post-holocaust trauma of Israelis!!

    But gee, let’s not stop there…when those sinister Methodists reached the same conclusion as Fein…(2 years earlier than Fein) Fein’s own magazine (the Forward) ran an articles suggesting the Methodists were on “A Mission to Demonize Israel”.

    So here is my chronological summary of post-holocaust trauma theory…

    Methodists DO say it…they are raging anti-semites.
    Roger Cohen does NOT say it…that makes him bad.
    Weiss DOES say it…that makes him bad (“patronizing, dishonest, writes in bad faith, etc)
    Fein DOES say it…apparently it isn’t bad?

    So Dan, help me out here…regarding your comment… “a gap in the far left’s rhetoric about –and understanding of–the conflict.”

    Just what am I (or anyone else) supposed to make of all of the above??

  57. I think Dan got the assessment of Phil’s attitudes accurately.

    I don’t think you understand the value (the positive value) of “Never Again”.

    Its a good thing that Jews as a community determined that our existence, our identity, and our community (growing, changing, conflicting sometimes), is of existential merit.

    There is a theme in Phil’s writings of the kind of apology that conflicts with the determination of “Never Again”.

    It would be a much much more unjust and implausible experience of the holocaust to have NOT learned and to value determination.

    The next question, the area that most other dissenters – including most that post here, and Weiss and others agree on is that once determined, there IS an ethical question that applies to HOW we use our power.

    Do we use it for opportunist expansion?
    Do we use it only for protection?
    Do we use it to assist those that are willing to accept us?
    Do we use it unconditionally to help others regardless of how they treat us?
    Do we use it assertively to CREATE good relations with our neighbors?

    Phil vacilates. Sometimes he sticks to his principles of mutual respect. Sometimes he seems to shift to deferrence to the vanguard of dissent (rather than his own views).

    Somtimes he clearly and compellingly documents wrongs that the world needs to see. And sometimes he trivializes the prospect of his earned professional reputation for hatchet jobs on individuals and thinking that deserve better.

    Sometimes he is a journalist. And sometimes he is a propagandist, and some of that is potentially (or actually) reactionary.

  58. Anonymous…””I don’t think you understand the value (the positive value) of “Never Again”.””

    Based on my comments, how on earth would you know what I do, or do not, understand?

    I was pointing out that the criticisms of Phil Weiss (at least the comments on this particular post) are “ad hominem” criticisms. And in homage to my high school English teachers…I provided what strikes me as “compelling evidence” of this.

    I think it is a “safe bet” that no one here is going to start bashing Leonard Fein. Why? Because Fein is an ardent Zionist. Ergo, the issue is not Phil’s attitude toward “collective post holocaust PTSD”,it is about Phil himself.

    If you and others don’t like Weiss, or detest him for that matter, why not just say so and be done with it? I don’t agree with Bill Pearlman, but he is about as honest as anyone can be in this regard.

    As opposed to raising a host of issues that have precisely nothing to do with my first comment? (you parse issues almost as well as Richard Witty, btw).

    Definition…An ad hominem, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin: “to the man”), is an attempt to persuade which links the validity of a premise to a characteristic or belief of the person advocating the premise.[1] The ad hominem is a classic logical fallacy.[2] The argumentum ad hominem is not always fallacious, for in some instances questions of personal conduct, character, motives, etc., are legitimate and relevant to the issue.[3]

  59. That was my post under anonymous. My cookies got erased.

    I don’t “detest” Phil in the slightest. I’m angry (literally) at a few of his themes and frankly wish that he was more effective at the parts of his message that are clearly and productive.

    On the part of Dan, I’ve never observed anything resembling ad hominem attacks on Phil Weiss by Dan. I have seen criticisms of his observations, his interpretations, and his goals.

    If you’ve spent any time at Mondoweiss, you’d observe that ANY time anyone comments that acknowledges that Israeli deserve consideration, and that Israel as a state has an obligation to protect its civilians, that ad hominems come out widely, as dismissively, as verbally violently as can be presented on a blog.

  60. The problem is not that Phil is “anti-Zionist”. There are many anti-Zionists, such as people in the American Council for Judaism (Reform) or Haredi anti-Zionists who, while critical of Israel and, most particularly its government, do not hate Israel and Jews. My argument with them is ideological. Phil, on the other hand, hates Jews and hates Israel. And he is not the only one. J-Street invited other such haters to its national conference last year, which makes their claim to be “pro-Israel” a bad joke.

  61. YBD:

    You have repeatedly claimed that J Street invited Weiss and the other anti-Israel bloggers to the conference. Do you have any evidence for this assertion? I think that they invited themselves and J Street gave them a room to talk among themselves rather than appear to be censoring debate. I actually had a hard time finding the room, as it wasn’t well marked or publicized (I was going there to see Dan not Weiss).

    Now I realize that a desire not to censor may seem strange or cowardly from your point of view, but there are some organizations that believe in freedom of speech. J Street did invite the head of the Reform Movement’s political wing to debate Jeremy Ben-Ami, after he had published some remarks critical of J Street.

  62. Well, let’s see Tom, would they have invited radical antisemitic organizations simply because they too want Israel out of Judea/Samaria, among other things? Would they have invited HAMAS because they may be a potential “peace partner”?
    Phil’s blog is one of the biggest reservoirs of antisemitic propaganda I’ve ever seen.
    To illustrate my point, I have no problem praying in a Satmar Hasidic synagogue even though they have a radical anti-Zionist ideology, which is vehemently oppose, because they do not translate their philosophy into hatred of Jews or even the state of Israel. If J-Street had given space to the anti-Zionist American Council for Judaism, I wouldn’t have cared. But they brought in people that are real haters and who allow their blogs to be a reservoir of antisemitic poison. As I have stated before, this simply shows me how far gone J-Street is, and how phony they are.

  63. Correction-When I said “invited” at the beginning of the previous comment, I meant to say that that “they gave them space at their conference”.

  64. Richard,

    I certainly believe that Israelis deserve consideration; that should not be a question, at least in my opinion.

  65. While I agree with your assertion that Israeli fears aren’t totally “psychosis,” I think you’re neglecting a much more apt description.

    In this case, the master/slave paradigm is apt. Israel and Israeli Jews are the masters, the Palestinians under occupation are political slaves. Of course it isn’t literal slavery, but in fact, Israel controls where Palestinians can live and work and attend school, where they can build their homes if they can build them at all. Israel controls what they can export and import and whether they can leave and return to their land. This is enforced with governmental bureaucracy, an entire permit system in which Palestinians under occupation have no say and whose goal is favoring Jews, was well as beatings, harassment, imprisonment and torture and what’s key, Israel often permits Jews to freely kill Palestinians. Not literal slavery, even if some Zionists wouldn’t mind if Palestinians became the “hewers of wood and drawers of water,” the biblical term for slaves.

    Of course, the slave master’s fear of rebellion is entirely justifiable and rational. But your defense of it smacks of the white slave-owners defense – the horror, that his poor, innocent white children would be slaughtered by the savages slaves. A rational fear, slave rebellions don’t always stop with killing the slave master himself, often anyone associated with the slave class is caught up. And don’t get me wrong, I’d never justify killing either the slave master or his sweet, innocent wife and children. Really, I think slavery should be abolished, as a way to ending slave rebellions which endanger the master.

    And once again, because I hate to blame the victims, I’d like to point out that before the first suicide bomber of the recent intifada attacked inside Israel, hundreds of innocent Palestinians had been killed all over the occupied territories. With aforesaid impunity. Zionists like yourself are ever blaming the Palestinians for their own oppression – yet that oppression and mass killings preceded the suicide bombings. I’m sorry, but your kind of “peace” is the same kind that the slave master wants – to be able to control the slaves without fear of rebellion.

  66. “I’m sorry, but your kind of “peace” is the same kind that the slave master wants – to be able to control the slaves without fear of rebellion.”

    Are you sure of that, or are you guessing?

    And, if you are guessing, why are you accusing rather than inquiring further?

  67. Anyone belonging to the “master” class who blames the “slave” class for rebelling, and then goes on to argue that slaves must be controlled (by whoever, even other slaves) as Flescher does in his paragraph 6 (excluding Phil Weiss quotes), and then argues that the “slaves” must be kept enslaved until there’s no fear of them rebelling, is by implication wanting to control the slaves without fear of rebellion, especially if he so consistently ignores the longstanding brutality of the “master” class. I’m not guessing.

  68. Lyn,
    When one begans to give new meanings to words, such as master and slave one is engaging in Alice in Wonderland symantics, a trick much beloved of the Communists who used (and presumably still do)to use the term democracy to mean Communist rule. Alice said “A word means whatever I say it means.”

  69. Lyn,
    Propaganda is tiresome.

    Tom is right to describe the method as an attempt to rally the gullible and conforming. (My words, not his.)

    When do you think the first violence between Zionists and Palestinians occurred?

  70. Martin Luther King called conditions for blacks in the south in the 1950s slavery. Yet they had far more freedom than Palestinians. They had at least the recognized right to vote, and theoretical, but well recognized equality under the U.S. constitution.

    I guess, from your comments, that you, Richard, and Tom both believe Palestinians are free? Free to leave or be subject to arbitrary killing, confiscation of their land – this is what you call freedom?

    As for when the first violence between Zionists and Palestinians occurred, I’d put it approximately when the first Zionists arrived in Palestine. Ahad Ha’am about it in 1891. Not only that, other Zionists such as Israel Zangwill seriously proposed expulsion of Palestinian Arabs by force in the late 1800’s. Perhaps some thought their intentions were peaceful, but in the main it’s a lie to claim Zionists settled in Palestine with peaceful intent.

  71. I don’t believe in opportunistic over-simplification.

    Noone is free in the middle east, or really anywhere. Are you free?

    So, you attribute the violence in the middle east to any Jewish, formerly European, presence at all?

    Jews don’t have a right to reside there. There is just no room for them at the inn.

    I’ve heard black nationalists (in person) say that they deserve a state, that they should be given it, and if not given it then they should take it by force.

    Should I have then concluded that all that assert that blacks deserve a good life, a home, threaten me?

    I’ve heard now many Palestinians and more western solidarity, state that Jews should leave Israel/Palestine. Of course stated in the name of democracy, even of Islam.

    “it’s a lie to claim Zionists settled in Palestine with peaceful intent”

    And you quote Ahad Ha’am to prove that?

    LIve and let live is not one of your goals?

  72. Maybe your a plant, to incite reaction against the left, or against any sympathy for Palestinian welfare.

  73. Re comment 81:
    Now you’re saying I said something I didn’t.

    I’m free. It would be considered a crime to kill me unless I attacked someone, nor can I have my property confiscated without due process of law under a government in which I have a say. This was not true of blacks in post-reconstruction South, it isn’t true of Palestinians under occupation.

    Saying that violence between Zionists and Palestinians began with the Zionist invasion isn’t even remotely attributing all violence in the Middle East to a Jewish presence. Do you really aspire to be Humpty Dumpty?

    Fine with me if you believe Jews don’t have a right to reside there. I myself make no such claim.

    Zionists, historically, mostly asserted that too many Palestinians who were happily living in their original homes in what’s now Israel threatened them, simply because they aren’t Jewish, therefore they could not let them live. Many still assert that. That is the choice Zionists have been giving Palestinians: leave, give up your land and property, give up your good life, or stay in your home and die.

    When you imply blacks deserve a good life, a home, I take you to mean that they deserve a good life and home so long as it isn’t in your neighborhood, similarly to the Zionists who expel Palestinians from neighborhoods they want to make Jewish, even though the Palestinians may have ancestors who lived in those neighborhoods for hundreds or thousands of years?

    And you might notice that I didn’t attribute violent intent to Ahad Ha’am. I attributed violent intent to a slew of other Zionists.

    Re comment 82:
    Richard, thy name is Humpty Dumpty

  74. You presume a great deal, and then proceed to accuse.

    Not uncommon.

    “Perhaps some thought their intentions were peaceful, but in the main it’s a lie to claim Zionists settled in Palestine with peaceful intent.”

    You did say that, correct?

    Your comments contrast grossly with the progressive assertion of urging mutual humanization.

    Your thesis is that Israel oppresses Palestinians, and that Zionism intended to from day 1, that it was never a primarily liberatory social response to oppression.

    I think that analysis is literally a racist one.

    The most that I am willing to accept is that the application of Zionism is currently immoral (and in the sense that where there are decisions that could have improved life for Palestinians without endangering Israelis, they often failed to do so).

    But, that conclusion accepts that BOTH Israelis and Palestinians have made their home in the land, and that neither are leaving without force.

    And, it accepts that Israel and Palestine should be governed by democratic rule of law primarily, in addition to their national formula.

    Democratic AND Jewish
    Democratic AND Palestinian

  75. Lyn,

    There are many forms of unfreedom besides slavery. You reduce everything down to freedom or slavery. Presumably under your definition everyone under military occupation is a slave. Thus, all the Germans in Germany from 1945 to 1954 were slaves or all the Germans in the Rhineland under the French occupation in the 1920s. I’m sure the Nazis made this leap of logic.

    Or do you regard the Zionist occupation of Palestine as something special? Something different from all those other ethnic or national groups that have reduced other ethnic or national groups to a minority status or occupied their homelands?

  76. Nonsense. Read my first post. I define slavery, and I believe it’s fairly aligned to Martin Luther King’s definition of slavery. The situation of the West Germans under occupation from 1945 to 1954 may meets some of the criteria but not all. The allies weren’t killing Germans arbitrarily, nor were they confiscating land to settle Americans.

    No I don’t regard the Zionist occupation of Palestine as special, it’s a lot like the Nazi occupation of Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, and so forth.

  77. This is yet another rendition of the idea that israeli suffering matters and palestinian suffering does not. When a bully smashes a victim and the victim inflicts a (relative) scratch on the bully in defense, the bully does not get any sympathy for whining about the ‘fear’ caused by the scratch.

    Theories about the evolution of democracies are very nice in some dreamworld, but in reality world, any ‘mature’ socalled democracies to be found are in fact plutocracies.

  78. Hey Rich, I see that your buddy, Phil ( Hitler had the right idea ) Weiss, and his little gay buddy Horowitz, really have a kindred spirit in Oliver Stone. Tell me again what a good guy your friend is.

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