Translation needed

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Thus the Times:

After five months of intensifying combat that threatened to rip Ukraine apart and to reignite the Cold War, the Ukrainian government and separatist forces signed a cease-fire agreement on Friday that analysts considered highly tenuous in a country that remains a tinderbox.

Previous attempts to stop the fighting have failed. But the prime difference this time was that the main thrust of the plan was not just endorsed, but laid out, by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, whom Western leaders accuse of stoking unrest to prevent Ukraine from slipping out of Russia’s orbit.

Translation: We’ll make sure the cease-fire fails, and blame it on Putin.

Because, like… Hamas!

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For a guy who’s as much a non-fan of Israel as I am, I have a surprising number of friends on the other side of the question — people whom I like and value and admire but who are still, for one reason or another, very committed to Fort Zion. (It isn’t always the first-guess reason, either — some of ‘em are Episcopalians.)

Speaking of Episcopalians, the local Bishop recently issued a rather tepid and carefully nonjudgemental call to aid a hospital in Gaza, which had just been bombed to shit by the Light Unto The Nations.

The Zionist thought-police response was rapid and consistent. How do we know that the money would go to a hospital — and not to Hamas? How do we know that rockets wouldn’t be fired from the roof of the rebuilt hospital — by Hamas? It doesn’t matter what the question is; the answer is always Hamas.

The essence of hasbara, I think, is changing the subject. The anti-Semitism gambit, and the closely related the singling-out gambit, attempt to change the subject from Israel to the interlocutor’s feelings and motivations. The Hamas gambit seeks to seduce the interlocutor into either defending Hamas or arguing about details of what’s really going on in Gaza.

Now neither the hasbarist nor the interlocutor knows anything about details on the ground in Gaza, except what they read in the papers. The same applies to Hamas. In this new argument, about Hamas, no substantial conversation is possible; only hot air expended by tendentious malice on one side and (at best) wishful thinking on the other. But the hasbarist has succeeded. The subject has been changed. Israel and its manifest and acknowledged project of conquest, apartheid, and expropriation is no longer under discussion. Instead, Hamas and its sins real or imaginary are now the topic. The prosecutor of Israel has become the Legal Aid lawyer for Hamas, who has never met his client and knows nothing about him except what the newly-appointed prosecution chooses to say.

Speaking only for myself, I’m like Mlle de Rimbaud’s dad in the Mel Brooks History of the World: I suspect Hamas ain’t so bad, and certainly, if I were a young man living in Gaza I’d join up. But really, that’s neither here nor there. Good or bad, Hamas is a consequence of Israel and its essential undertaking. If you don’t like Hamas, do something about Israel.

Singling out

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We’ve all heard the “singling out” argument, right? — As in, “Why single out Israel? What about the Tadjiks?!”

Of course nobody is asking about the Tadjiks any more. These days, anti-singler-outers are more likely to redirect your attention to Syria, where Assad is, purportedly, a much worse mass murderer than Netanyahu & Co.

Curiously, the Hasbara Manual doesn’t contain any reference to the single-out argument. I wonder why the manual left it out? Does it concede too much? Yes, Israel is a genocidal apartheid state, but it could always be worse. Not a terribly strong defense, when you come to think about it.

Then too the single-out defense is generally the setup for an anti-Semite gambit: Since Syria is worse than Israel, supposedly, the fact that you are talking about Israel instead of Syria can only mean that you’re an anti-Semite. Now the Manual soft-pedals this approach; its authors are happy to call the Palestinians anti-Semites but seem to feel that it may not be good hasbara to call your interlocutor an anti-Semite. Which is very intelligent on their part, if the goal is to convince your interlocutor rather than silence him. It’s strategically sound to try persuasion first, and fall back on silencing only if persuasion fails. Defence in depth. Even Steven Salaita wasn’t accused of anti-Semitism, just incivility — of which he was certainly guilty, bless him. Quite right too.

With or without the manual’s advice, one hears the argument a lot, mostly from otherwise intelligent and humane friends who happen to be still soft on Israel, for whatever reason, rather than from professional hasbarists. I think these good people go to silencing first simply because they want a quiet life — and also, perhaps, because they know persuasion won’t work. They realize that Israel is obviously a very sketchy proposition, but they have some history, or personal ties, or it would just be very bad for one’s back to be knocked off a horse on the road to Damascus. So can’t we talk about something pleasant?

Another precinct heard from

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Email through the contact form. This sort of thing warms the cockles of my heart:

Dear God! Aren’t you a nasty peace of work!

You said that you thought the old Stalinists were half right. Given the establishment and support of a totalitarian state, the deportation and enslavement of millions in the gulag, the Holodomor in Ukraine (which led to the deaths of at least three million people), the Great Terror, the Nazi Soviet Pact, ethnic cleansing of minorities during World War II (including the Crimean Tartars), the Katyn Massacre, the sexual assault of millions of women in Eastern Europe (one of the greatest mass rapes in human history), sending Soviet soldiers who survived Nazi camps to the gulag, Soviet imperialism in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, persecution of Jews, Stalin’s agreement to let Kim Il-Sung invade South Korea, and many other crimes, I’d hate to see what you think completely wrong means.

Or are you one of those folks who denies that the above atrocities happened, and says that I’m a “capitalist running dog” for mentioning them?

And your lies, sneers, and intellectual dishonesty in your coverage of Ukraine are appalling. The best that can be said about your coverage of the Ukraine is that it’s not quite as inaccurate and dishonest as Walter Duranty’s.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Duranty

But you’re trying your best to make it so!

Michael Delong

I don’t think I know a Michael Delong. Idle googling turns up quite a few, one of whom seems to be retired general. I hope my correspondent is that one. The General’s photo is shown above.

A few imbecile comments on Ferguson

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Obie:

“There is never an excuse for violence against police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting.”

Of course there is, you lying dog. We wouldn’t have civil rights legislation today if it weren’t for the riots of the 60s.

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Eric ‘Timon’ Holder:

We must seek to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the local community.

No, Timon. People need to understand that the policeman is not their friend. Fortunately, many already do. More every day.

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Elizabeth Warren, the sweetheart of Daily Kos:

“This is America, not a war zone.”

What premises, what reasoning, if any, lie behind this bizarre observation? “America” is not like, say, Gaza, where Qualitative Superiority Warren has made it clear that she’s on the side of the chaps in the tanks and the airplanes? But surely it’s obvious to the meanest intellect that Ferguson is in fact very much like Gaza.

Dirty birds of a feather

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New York governor Andrew Cuomo, a deeply loathesome figure, and Sheldon Silver, a figure if possible even more deeply loathesome, or at least loathesome for a longer time, and a couple of other inconsequential whores from the New York state legislature, have jetted off on a solidarity visit to poor beleaguered Israel. (Shellie is the one all the way to right, whose face is half cut-off by incompetent photo cropping. Competent cropping would have cut off his entire face and all six of his limbs.)

Might also be a good idea to re-think that logo under Cuomo’s right shoulder. Could be misread.

The governor’s press release makes entertaining reading:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Senate Majority Co-Leaders Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver today announced a unity visit reaffirming the State of New York’s support in light of the continued threat of attacks by Hamas and other terrorist organizations….

[Cuomo said]” As Hamas and other terrorist organizations continue to threaten Israel, now is the time to deliver that message of solidarity in person.”

Senate Co-Leader Dean G. Skelos said, “During this important moment in history, it is incumbent upon New York to reaffirm its strong and unconditional support for Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas-led attacks…[I] look forward to bringing the good wishes of the people of my district and the state of New York to our nation’s most trusted and reliable ally.”

Senate Co-Leader Jeffrey D. Klein said, “As the grandson of Holocaust survivors the State of Israel is not only personally sacred to me but a beacon for the values and rights inherent in a Democracy which I hold dear.”

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, “… I am proud that many New York businesses were started there.”

New York is home to more than 1.7 million Jews…

Much to ponder on here. Those 1.7 million New York Jews, for example, have chosen to live here rather than there. A very intelligent choice, I’d say. This state is pretty much a shithole, but it’s better than wretched Israel.

I had never heard of Dean Skelos before, since the obscene monkey-tricks of the New York state legislature have never seemed either interesting or amusing to me. But I looked him up. He represents a district in Nassau County, on the South Shore of Long Island, which includes the raffish and rather likable beach town of Long Beach, a quick easy train ride from sweltering Manhattan. The beach is much more ethnic and working-class than further-out beaches like Jones Beach, which are much whiter and more middle-class, as intended by that deeply evil man, Robert Moses. I remember some long sun-dazed afternoons, years ago, of swimming in the modest surf and napping in the sun on Long Beach, the best of them in pleasant company.

Less pleasantly, Long Beach is also home to a number of warehouses for elderly Jewish people, among them the King David Manor, shown below. It is a safe bet that none of the people playing volleyball in the foreground is a resident.

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I remember the King David Manor because it used to advertise extensively in the subway. The ads were definitive for chutzpah. Everybody knows what an old folks’ home is really all about, but the KDM ads suggested that every resident made Zorba the Greek look like a wimp, as regards vitality, gusto, sex drive, and general joie de vivre.

Israel itself is, I suppose, a kind of King David Manor too — a dead end on the beach. Though some of the inmates are a bit younger.

I find it encouraging that fewer and fewer young people outside of Israel, including Jewish young people, are residents of the mental King David Manor in which our various jailers like Cuomo and Silver and Skelos still dwell. The latter remain balls-to-the-wall for Israel, come what may, and will be so to the bitter end, but the public increasingly are not. I wonder when, and how, push will come to shove on this topic. I now feel that I can reasonably hope — though I am not, generally, an optimistic kind of guy — that I shall live to see it.

The Death Star’s new secret weapon…

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… to wit, the Boredom Bomb, which seems to be a beefed-up version of the old hot air blast ordnance known affectionately as Tubby Tommy. The new model appears capable of boring whole nations to death at one stroke.

I happened to pick up a copy of last Saturday’s NY Times today on the subway and was gobsmacked to find a mighty piece by the apparently retooled, neobionic Thomas Friedman occupying almost the whole of the op-ed page. The online version runs about 2,300 words. Never have I seen a neuron-buster on this scale dropped by the Times, even on a test range, much less in combat. The effect was devastating. As soon as the page was exposed to the air, people all around me began to lose consciousness and snore sterterously. I don’t know why I was spared; perhaps I used to read the Times enough when I was younger to develop an immunity.

But even I didn’t dare read this damn thing of course. There are limits. I cherish what scraps of sanity I have left. A quick browser word search — eyes averted — revealed that this is clearly not the old Thomas Friedman, since there is no reference to a cabdriver anywhere in the text. Prompted by a hunch, I searched for the word ‘Shiite’ and sure enough, found that it’s all the Shiites’ fault, according to Obie:

The fact is, said the president, in Iraq a residual U.S. troop presence would never have been needed had the Shiite majority there not “squandered an opportunity” to share power with Sunnis and Kurds. “Had the Shia majority seized the opportunity to reach out to the Sunnis and the Kurds in a more effective way, [and not] passed legislation like de-Baathification,” no outside troops would have been necessary. Absent their will to do that, our troops sooner or later would have been caught in the crossfire, he argued….

“[W]hat we have is a disaffected Sunni minority in the case of Iraq, a majority in the case of Syria, stretching from essentially Baghdad to Damascus. … Unless we can give them a formula that speaks to the aspirations of that population, we are inevitably going to have problems. … Unfortunately, there was a period of time where the Shia majority in Iraq didn’t fully understand that. They’re starting to understand it now. Unfortunately, we still have ISIL [the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant], which has, I think, very little appeal to ordinary Sunnis.” But “they’re filling a vacuum, and the question for us has to be not simply how we counteract them militarily but how are we going to speak to a Sunni majority in that area…”

So it’s still all about encircling Iran, apparently. ISIL, that Golem ginned up by the Gulf States, no doubt with help from the US and Israel, may be a somewhat dangerous and problematic tool; but what’s a Death Star gonna do?

When the big bombs go off, one doesn’t ordinarily pay much attention to the popgun, but a kind, or perhaps unkind friend forwarded me a cri de coeur from no less than Louis Proyect, that keeper of the Fourth International flame and great friend of the Sunni. (I don’t normally see Louis’ stuff any more since I finally unsubbed from his Marxmail list. This, also, in aid of protecting the abovementioned scraps of sanity.)

Louis, as far as I can tell, is indignant that what he calls ‘the “anti-imperialist” Left’ — the embedded quotes are important — isn’t leaping to the defense of ISIL:

For days now, the US military has been launching air strikes against the reactionary Sunni-fascist group Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS, or just IS now) in Iraq. Yet, strangely, not only have I not seen any evidence of anti-war demonstrations, or organising for them, I have also not seen the entire faux-“left” cybersphere full of fulminating attacks on US imperialist intervention, with everyone repeating and slightly re-wording the same half-baked, evidence-free article, like we saw last August during the alleged build-up to an entirely imaginary US attack on the reactionary, secular-fascist regime of Bashar Assad in Syria.

I say “as far as I can tell” because Louis has an uncanny capacity to tie himself in intellectual knots that any topologist can prove are impossible in the ordinary 3-D world, so being hit by a Proyectile of this kind gives one a queasy, churning sensation, like looking at one of those puzzle pictures by Escher.

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Update: I’m told on good authority that my topology metaphor misfired (see comments). A Valuable Prize to the best suggested replacement for it.

Another smarmster heard from

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Elie Wiesel, who else? A recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, along with the likes of Menachem Begin, Henry Kissinger, Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt… Blessed are the peacemakers.

I’ve always loved Elie’s overdone woebegone basset-hound look — a soul filled with Weltschmerz, or at any rate with Weltschmaltz.

He’s weighed in recently with a comparison between the Palestinians and the ancient child-sacrificing Moloch-loving Canaanites. It’s a damn shame Edward Said isn’t still around to comment on this one:

Elie-Wiesel-Hamas-Child-Sacrifice

Elie has teamed up on this occasion with that entertaining and indefatigable self-promoter, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, shown below, author of Kosher Sex, among other notable works of scholarship and divinity. One hopes that coarsely-ground salt is not involved.

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Academe strikes again

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Shown above is one Phyllis Wise, chancellor of the University of Illinois, and the most recent entry in a long illustrious parade of academic poltroons who have caved in to the Israel lobby. Wise recently created a stir by abruptly changing her mind about the offer, already extended and accepted, of a tenured position to Steven Salaita, supposedly because of his “uncivil” and “uncollegial” tweets about the ongoing atrocity in Gaza.

No doubt Wise, or her boss, president Robert Easter, heard from a number of individuals and organizations. Easter is shown below. Apparently before he became a university president he was an expert in swine nutrition, which seems eminently appropriate.

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The stercoraceous Simon Wiesenthal center went public with its own persecution of Salaita, which took the form of a letter to Easter from the center’s executive director, Rabbi Meyer May. This man of God is shown below, apparently looking for anti-Semites.

meyer

There are as many varieties of hypocrisy as there are of beetles, but surely one of the more fragrant stinkbugs in the entire order is the academic hypocrite. All that gaudy patter about free inquiry and so on, from people who would lock their own grandmother in an attic if some Meyer May told them to.

RTP

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There was a time there when we were hearing a great deal about the Responsibility to Protect. But RTP appears to be on holiday as far as Gaza is concerned.

Oh Samantha, where are you? Shown below receiving an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Brown University. “Humane” is good, don’t you think?

I had occasion to attend a Brown University graduation recently. Samantha Power did not speak on that occasion, but the President badly mangled the two or three phrases of Latin she was called upon to utter. That, and the general air of smugness and self-congratulation, were the only strong impressions the festivities made on me.

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