mini-me Archives

December 5, 2005

New orders from Fortress Israel

Been reading Seymour Hersh's fine recent New Yorker piece on the upcoming Phase II of the Iraq war. To my delight and amusement, I find that the Israel lobby has already laid out the line for the new approach -- in characteristically arrogant terms. Hersh quotes Patrick Clawson, of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy:
“We’'re not planning to diminish the war.... We just want to change the mix of the forces doing the fighting .... We’'re in the middle of a seven-year slog in Iraq....”
"We are not planning," Patrick? Who is this "we"? Are you and your WINEP colleagues in the chain of command now? I suppose you might be forgiven for thinking so.

January 10, 2006

Mythographia Sharonensis

"Democratic royalty" and perjurer Bill Clinton seems to have appointed himself high priest of the soon-to-be-posthumous-I-hope Sharon cult:
"Mr. Sharon had not only withdrawn from Gaza, he had started a new party with the purpose of continuing to push for peace," Clinton said. "All of us who believe in peace in the Middle East are in his debt, and so more than anything else, I pray for his health." ... His illness "puts yet another obstacle in the path of the peacemakers," Clinton said. "It's almost as if God were testing them one more time to rise again, to keep on."
Nobody ever said Clinton was short on chutzpah, but Paris seems to have put him in rare form. All those girls in thongs, perhaps, and who could blame him? Still, all this stuff about God.... hard to say which is more breathtaking, really: Clinton's theological ruminations or his eulogy of Sharon as a peacemaker.

Personally, I don't feel that I understand the Almighty very well, but I sure as hell understood Sharon. A peacemaker he was not, and never would be -- except in the rather specialized sense noted by Tacitus, a sense in which Sharon was very much the image of his imperial patron the US.

The emerging Reader's Digest capsule bio of Sharon reads something like this: tough old soldier, may have gone a little overboard from time to time, but lately he grew into a Man Of Vision. He stood up to the "extremists" on the Israeli right and with rare courage gave up Gaza as a down payment for "peace". He was in the process of founding a "centrist" party (sort of like the Democrats, hmmm?) when the King of the Universe, unable to deny Himself any longer the company of such a holy old soul, revoked his lease on life and called him home.

Deconstructing this myth would take a book, and somebody ought to write it. Suffice for the moment to observe that Israel's leaders have never really wanted Gaza; it was never more than a bargaining chip. (Those loopy settlers are another story, of course; but for the purposes of the Israeli state they fall into the category of useful idiots, or rather, temporarily useful idiots. More on this topic below).

The reason Sharon could give up Gaza unilaterally was that he had no intention of doing any bargaining, so a bargaining chip was useless to him. Sharon's own adviser Dov Weissglas spilled the beans on this topic in an interview last October in Ha'Aretz. Sharon meant to carve up the West Bank, penning the Palestinians into a few Bantustans and keeping the rest, all by fait accompli rather than negotiation.

His "courage" in standing up to the settlers -- or a few of them, anyway -- is cut from the same cloth as his devotion to peace. The settlers were useful as long as it was important to create "facts on the ground." Now that the facts are in place, and Sharon was ready to capitalize on them, these loons with their fantasies of red heifers and whatnot have served their purpose.

Indeed, Sharon's move to create his "Centrist" Kadima party is best seen as a move to isolate the loons in the rump of the Likud, and symmetrically isolate the "gentle souls" of Israeli liberalism in the rump of Labor. The serious-minded -- undistracted by quaint notions about divinity, or humanity -- would create a new institutional expression for what has always been a matter of practical consensus, between the leadership and core constituents of both parties, about Israel's destiny.

January 28, 2006

An echo, not a choice

On no subject is the essential unanimity of Republicans and Democrats more plain than the subject of Israel. Hamas won the the Palestinian elections, and five minutes later we see Democrats and Republicans reading from precisely the same script.

Hillary: “Until and unless Hamas renounces violence and terror, and renounces its position calling for the destruction of Israel, I don't believe the United States should recognize them, nor any nation in the world."

Schumer: "[Hamas is] a terrorist organization, which means they believe it is their right to murder women, children and innocent civilians to achieve their goals… It is unrealistic, unwise and even immoral to ask Israel to sit down with a government that contains people who have such beliefs…No other country would, why should Israel?"

("Murder women children and innocent civilians to achieve their goals"? Actually, that sounds a lot like the United States, Chuck. As memorably articulated by your fellow Democrat, Madeleine Albright. But I digress.)

Biden: "Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with a party that calls for its destruction, engages in terrorism and maintains an armed militia."

Fascinating, isn't it, how much of this exaggerated miming of horror turns on what Hamas has said, or is thought, correctly or incorrectly, to believe? Hamas are ineligible interlocutors because they "don't accept Israel's right to exist" or because they have "called for Israel's destruction." In what other political context would objections like these sound like anything other than the ravings of a lunatic?

Now you may or may not like Hamas. (I like their militance, personally, but think their world-view is a little crude.) Regardless what you think about Hamas, though, it's pretty clear that they have the Palestinians' mandate. And unless you're willing to declare the Palestinians nonpersons, with no rights a white man is obliged to respect -- which is, of course, precisely the view shared by Republicans and Democrats alike, in perfect bipartisan harmony -- then it follows that you have to accept them as interlocutors. And if peace in the Milddle East is thought to be in the interest of the American people -- and surely it is -- then are not our leaders duty bound to swallow their highly selective fastidiousness and sit down with the people the Palestinians have chosen to speak for them?

Well, of course, A child could see that. But don't expect to hear it from any Democrat.

February 6, 2006

Fund-raising McCain

What's gotten into John McCain? All of a sudden he's as pugnacious on the subject of Iran as Joe "Mad Dog" Lieberman or Hillary "Mrs Grendel" Clinton.

I have a theory. (You knew I was going to say that, didn't you?)

In the context of his own party, McCain is a bit of a maverick. A lot of the True Believers think he's a RINO -- a Republican in Name Only, for those of you who have passed up the joys of the right-wing blogsphere. The fetus fanciers and rapturists don't think he's really one of them, and neither do the machine-gunners. So he is not going to be able to tap all the usual sources of Republican funding. Hmmm. Where to go with the candidate's begging bowl?

*Cartoon lightbulb over head* Hey! How about the Israel lobby? Why not grab some of those chips that usually end up on the Democratic side of the table?

Even more than with the Iraq war, the Iran nuke scare is a golem ginned up by the Israeli propaganda ministry. Nobody else much cares about Iran getting the Bomb; but a nuclear Iran would have the effect of diminishing (if not removing entirely) Israel's capacity to exert nuclear blackmail on its neighbors. So apart from McCain the people making the most noise about ayatollahs-with-nukes have been the usual AIPAC suspects: Hillary, Joe, Chuckie Schumer.

If I'm right about this, it suggests some interesting reflections. If McCain thinks he can tap funding sources that have historically leaned heavily Democratic, presumably he has some reason for believing that. Are pro-Israel donors starting to feel lately that Democrats aren't, perhaps, the best possible investment?

Well, nobody ever said they were dumb. But if it's true that even the Fort Zion lobby is getting restless in the Democratic tent, then that in turn suggests that the decline of the Democratic Party may be entering its terminal phase.

Not a minute too soon.

February 15, 2006


JSP got so angry writing this one that archy had to transcribe it for him.

part three ...or is it four ???
in my series

"these too must die...."
-- figuratively speaking of course -- 

        all know it alls out there
        the prog-sphere

bring me the  formula
to shrink the head
tom lantos down to raisinette scale

tom tom ... tom

   u must find a way
                  to rid me
        of this cotton topped
              fried clay faced double dip
                aipac buzzbomb           

  he's everything
         the jack ass party needs
to  put the torch  to

he's worse than rickets

worse than joan rivers and bill moyers

freddie needs to come  thru his bedroom window

now prove me right here

surely you coastal sand and ice  devils
can figure a way
to shiver  his re election   base
into beatable pieces

-- how the hell does this guy stay in office -- 

February 20, 2006

Beware the Ay-rabs

Predictably enough, Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton (joined by Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey) have been raising the alarm about the acquisition, by a firm in Dubai, of an English firm (the storied P&O; how are the mighty fallen). P&O has been for some time under contract to manage commercial operations at several US seaports.

Apparently the thinking is that those wild-eyed radicals who throng the boardrooms of the United Arab Emirates will be staffing US port operations with dedicated "terrorists."

Anybody remember Abscam? No? Too long ago, too parochial, perhaps.

Anyway, the Chicken Little clucking and feather-fluffing of the Hill and the Upchuck et al. isn't surprising. It's important to keep the American corporate world from forming any more ties with, well, pardon the expression, Arabs. Jeez, the State Department is bad enough -- all those brainwashed bowtie twits who made the effort and learned the language and fell in love with the people who speak it. But these people who just want to make a buck are even worse, really -- if you don't watch 'em like a hawk, they'll be reclining in a tent, smoking a hookah, and swearing blood-brothership with some Emir. Can't have that!

What's slightly surprising in this story is that the point man seems to be Pete King, a Republican congressman from NY's third district, in Nassau County, Long Island. Ole Pete is bucking his President in objecting to this Dubai deal.

Indeed, Pete has distinguished himself recently by a vein of Arab-bashing that would be right at home in Commentary magazine. Long Island's Newsday reports:

Rep. Peter King said Wednesday he continues to believe that 85 percent of the mosques in the United States have "extremist leadership," and that while most Muslims are "loyal Americans," they are reluctant to come forward to cooperate with law enforcement when they hear anti-American rhetoric or plots.

King (R-Seaford) said Wednesday he based his belief on extensive conversations he has had with law enforcement officials, both in New York and Washington, D.C.. He said the issue crystallized for him in the weeks following Sept. 11, 2001. At a community "solidarity" meeting at Temple Beth-El in Great Neck, Dr. Faroque Kahn of the Islamic Center criticized America's foreign policy toward Arab and Palestinian communities, prompting some Jewish attendees to walk out.

I suspect King has a pass from the leadership to take this insubordinate line because his district is the last remnant of a once-proud Repuplican hegemony on the Island. Hanging onto it is important -- so important that Pete has carte blanche. He's allowed to do whatever it takes -- even if he has to be as coarse, and bigoted, and hysterical as -- well, as a Democrat.

February 24, 2006

Robots on the march

Wanna see what a Demo-majority house would pull, foreign affairs-wise?

Well, just look at the recent vote on bullying Iran pointed out by one of our vigilant commenters. This foolish and presumptuous bill includes, among other gems, the following:

(3) calls on all members of the United Nations Security Council, in particular the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China, to expeditiously consider and take action in response to the report of Iran's noncompliance in fulfillment of the mandate of the Security Council to respond to and deal with situations bearing on the maintenance of international peace and security;

(4) declares that Iran, through its many breaches for almost 20 years of its obligations under the Safeguards Agreement, has forfeited the right to develop any aspect of a nuclear fuel cycle, especially with uranium conversion and enrichment and plutonium reprocessing technology, equipment, and facilities;

(5) calls on all responsible members of the international community to impose economic sanctions designed to deny Iran the ability to develop nuclear weapons; and

Don't know which is better, the warning shot at China and Russia; or the sanctimonious decision that Iran is not among the deserving; or the idiotic call for economic sanctions.

Against this exercise in the higher idiocy there were, in the House, four nays, count 'em, four, and one of those a Republican:

  • Kucinich
  • McDermott
  • Paul
  • Stark
And then there were 4 neuters -- all Dems -- who voted "Present":
  • Abercrombie
  • Capuano
  • Kaptur
  • Lee
And among the 20 mia's 12 donks more -- you pick 'em out:
  • Berman
  • Bishop (UT)
  • Blumenauer
  • Campbell (CA)
  • Carson
  • Cummings
  • Davis (IL)
  • Evans
  • Hinchey
  • Hinojosa
  • Hunter
  • McKinney
  • Miller, Gary
  • Osborne
  • Rangel
  • Simpson
  • Wamp
  • Wasserman Schultz
  • Westmoreland
  • Woolsey

Personally I'm pleased to see Frank and Sanders among the ayes, and no doubt MJS will be pleased to see Nadler there. Rangel at least dodged the bullet.

March 7, 2006

The true marriage of minds

I read with unspeakable delight in Newsday that
Columbia University students including the College Conservatives and campus Democrats plan to protest a speech Wednesday by a professor who has written that Jewish organizations exploit the Holocaust to deflect criticism of Israel....

Norman Finkelstein, an assistant professor of political science at DePaul University in Chicago, wrote in his 2000 book "The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering" that some Jews have used the Holocaust as an "extortion racket" to get compensation payments, and he has referred to Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel as the "resident clown" of the "Holocaust circus."

(Elie Wiesel and trophy wife, shown with the Cheneys)

[Finkelstein's] most recent book, "Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History," is largely an attack on lawyer Alan Dershowitz's "The Case for Israel." In it he argues that Israel uses the outcry over perceived anti-Semitism as a bully weapon to stifle criticism....

Chris Kulawik, president of the College Conservatives.... and College Democrats membership director Josh Lipsky denounced Finkelstein in the campus newspaper last week, calling him "an anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, anti-America Holocaust revisionist and terrorist sympathizer."

Let me see if if I've got this straight. The College Conservatives and the Democrats are deadly enemies, right? In our terribly "partisan" and "polarized" political culture, and on a college campus yet, we're talking here about -- not dogs and cats, they're both terrestrial mammals, after all, but Klingons and Romulans. And yet, look at 'em, the lion lies down with the lamb. Heartwarming, isn't it?

March 11, 2006

The fifty-first state

... and the most important. -- Okay, okay. That's an exaggeration. California is the most important. But Israel is a close second.

From Ha'Aretz:

Under fire for his membership in a professional organization highly critical of Israel, Lord Richard Rogers, the British architect supervising the redesign of [New York City's] Jacob Javits Center, has cut ties to the group in an effort to salvage his role in the $1.7 billion project.

But that hasn't satisfied several elected officials, including New York state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Rep. Anthony Weiner, who have each demanded Rogers be dropped from the project. And Friday, the chairman of the state commission overseeing the Javits Center redevelopment summoned Rogers to New York to discuss the controversy....

Weiner, a Brooklyn Democrat, released a letter Friday to the Empire State Development Corp. calling for Rogers' contract to be rescinded. The ESDC is overseeing the Javits project and has based its planning on Rogers' design, which would almost double the size of the center.

Weiner.... said Rogers' stewardship of the Javits project would dishonor the memory of Javits himself.

"This is not just any project. This is a building that's named after one of the foremost fighters for the state of Israel," Weiner said in an interview.

Wiener used to be a halfway OK city councilman -- he did me a favor once, so I feel I have to say that -- but since his ascent to the House of Representatives, he's become a very standard-issue Israel Democrat (and therefore, of course, a War Democrat). Last fall he distinguished himself by calling for the firing of Columbia Univeristy Professor Joseph Massad, the target of a "political inquisition" for his pro-Palestinian views.

Democratic New York state assembly speaker Sheldon Silver is less well known, except among masochists who study the entrails of our Ruritanian state legislature, but along with the Governor and the Republican president pro tem of the state Senate, Joe Bruno, he is one of the triumvirate who essentially run the state. He represents a district in lower Manhattan and can be counted on to sell out the city every chance he gets; a few years back he was instrumental in doing away with NYC's commuter tax. (I remember this occasion well because it gave me one of the few openings I've had on the New York Times Op-Ed page.)

Silver, too, is of course a sedulous water-boy for Israel. One of his pet causes is the Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard; another is Hillary Clinton.

Amusingly, Republican Bruno, Silver's opposite number in the state legislature, recently called for withdrawal from Iraq, infuriating the White House and apparently prompting an angry phone call from Karl Rove to Republican Governor Pataki. The unfortunate shut-ins who monitor New York state politics agree that Bruno has never done anything out of conviction in his life; he is concerned for his Republican majority and perhaps even for his own seat.

Silver, a stalwart and not insignificant leader of the party Kosniks refer to as "us," has so far failed to follow Bruno's lead.

It's also quite funny, for those of us with long memories, to see two Democrats kowtowing to the memory of Jacob Javits. Javits was a "liberal" Republican who enabled the election of the aromatic Alfonse D'Amato to the US Senate. D'Amato beat Javits in the Republican primary, and then Javits ran a spoiler campaign on the Liberal Party line (if memory serves), pulling away enough loyalist-liberal votes from the Democratic nominee, Elizabth Holtzman, to allow D'Amato to squeak in.

But Javits was indeed, as Wiener with uncharacteristic accuracy says, "one of the foremost fighters for the state of Israel," and hey, that's all that counts, I guess.

March 13, 2006

The sages are not divided

Thus Ha-Aretz, reporting on AIPAC's most recent annual triumphal procession, AKA its "policy conference":
Both Republican and Democratic leaders were at the podium, and as Democratic Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, who was last to speak, put it, support for Israel is not a matter for debate.
Comment seems superfluous.

April 10, 2006

Divided Sages, Part Deux

So -- just how big a deal is this Israel lobby, anyway? Here's Joseph Massad, with what is probably the majority Left view:

While many of the studies of the pro-Israel lobby are sound and full of awe-inspiring well- documented details about the formidable power commanded by groups like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) .... The arguments put forth by these studies would have been more convincing if the Israel lobby was forcing the United States government to pursue policies in the Middle East that are inconsistent with its global policies elsewhere. This, however, is far from what happens.... One could argue (and I have argued elsewhere) that it is in fact the very centrality of Israel to US strategy in the Middle East that accounts, in part, for the strength of the pro-Israel lobby and not the other way around.

Au contraire, says Michael Neumann:

America is a sap, a duped accomplice, not a co-conspirator. The enormous, ignored fact of the Palestinian story is that America is not, as the left so loves to think, pursuing some vital interest in its alliance with Israel. On the contrary, America is acting against its vital interests. And by America I don't just mean the wonderful, real-as-dirt Americans of Denzel Washington flicks. I also mean corporate America and the American government.

This used to be a conversation that you wouldn't hear in the "mainstream" of American political discourse, but come now Mearsheimer and Walt, presenting a view which is certainly quite novel for two such Establishment figures (Mearsheimer is a professor at that hotbed of radicalism, the University of Chicago, and Walt is the Dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard):

Why has the US been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state? ... The thrust of US policy in the [Middle East] derives almost entirely from domestic politics, and especially the activities of the "Israel Lobby" .... Pressure from Israel and the Lobby was not the only factor behind the decision to attack Iraq in March 2003, but it was critical. Some Americans believe that this was a war for oil, but there is hardly any direct evidence to support this claim. Instead, the war was motivated in good part by a desire to make Israel more secure.

And in response to them, the biggest of big guns, Noam Chomsky:

[Mearsheimer and Walt] make as good a case as one can, I suppose, for the power of the Lobby, but I don't think it provides any reason to modify what has always seemed to me a more plausible interpretation.... For whom has [US] policy been a failure for the past 60 years? The energy corporations? Hardly. They have made "profits beyond the dreams of avarice" .... and still do, and the ME is their leading cash cow. Has it been a failure for US grand strategy based on control of what the State Department described 60 years ago as the "stupendous source of strategic power" of ME oil and the immense wealth from this unparalleled "material prize"? Hardly. The US has substantially maintained control -- and the significant reverses, such as the overthrow of the Shah, were not the result of the initiatives of the Lobby.

What's a poor Lefty to do, when his rabbis disagree like this? Read on.

Continue reading "Divided Sages, Part Deux" »

May 4, 2006

Pledging allegiance

From Ha-Aretz:
At the AJC annual convention today, I heard a couple of people talk about the issue of the Iranian nuclear program and most of it was fairly reassuring. Representatives from both Left and Right promised the audience that the threat will not be ignored. Not by a Republican administration - as was emphasized by Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon - nor by a Democratic one, as Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean promised in terms not at all different from those used by Bush, Cheney and Rice.

And Dean - wearing the badge of a leftist Democrat - was actually the one going into details in regard to Iran - Making the more forceful argument. The crowed demanded it from him in the short session of questions and answers. But even before that it was clear that he was coming with a decision that?s been made in advance: He was not going to leave any room for doubt or interpretation on this issue.

Comment seems superfluous.

You and me, Tony

Tony Judt is one of the few regulars at the New York Review whom I consistently read with any pleasure, so I was delighted to see him in Ha-Aretz echoing my very own phrase "a straw in the wind" to describe the Mearsheimer/Walt report on the Israel lobby:
Something is changing in the United States. To be sure, it was only a few short years ago that prime minister Sharon's advisers could gleefully celebrate their success in dictating to U.S. President George W. Bush the terms of a public statement approving Israel's illegal settlements....

But whereas Israel has no choice but to look to America - it has no other friends, at best only the conditional affection of the enemies of its enemies, such as India - the United States is a great power; and great powers have interests that sooner or later transcend the local obsessions of even the closest of their client states and satellites. It seems to me of no small significance that the recent essay on "The Israel Lobby" by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt has aroused so much public interest and debate....

The fact is that the disastrous Iraq invasion and its aftermath are beginning to engineer a sea-change in foreign policy debate here in the U.S. It is becoming clear to prominent thinkers across the political spectrum - from erstwhile neo-conservative interventionists like Francis Fukuyama to hard-nosed realists like Mearsheimer - that in recent years the United States has suffered a catastrophic loss of international political influence and an unprecedented degradation of its moral image. The country's foreign undertakings have been self-defeating and even irrational. There is going to be a long job of repair ahead.... And this reconstruction of the country's foreign image and influence cannot hope to succeed while U.S. foreign policy is tied by an umbilical cord to the needs and interests (if that is what they are) of one small Middle Eastern country of very little relevance to America's long-term concerns....

That essay is thus a straw in the wind - an indication of the likely direction of future domestic debate here in the U.S. about the country's peculiar ties to Israel. Of course it has been met by a firestorm of criticism from the usual suspects - and, just as they anticipated, the authors have been charged with anti-Semitism (or with advancing the interests of anti-Semitism: "objective anti-Semitism," as it might be). But it is striking to me how few people with whom I have spoken take that accusation seriously, so predictable has it become.

Right on the money, Tony -- as you so often are.

The magic words

Here's an article -- a real thinkeroo by one Paul Waldman at File it under must and will weep (salty tears of mirth division).

I'm not going to give it away -- but I will forearm you: it's nothing less than a general slogan for progress.

May 19, 2006

"The Lobby" and the great Protestant crusader

This essay by Lenni Brenner originally appeared in Counterpunch.

May 17, 2006

The Lobby and the Great Protestant Crusader

The NYT Confronts Mearsheimer and Walt--Not Quite Head On


I've been a political activist for 54 years. During that time I've had plenty of chances to do stupid things and I've taken full advantage of the opportunities. But I've developed only one perversion: I not only read New York Times editorials, I collect them.

One thing is for certain. John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" has made the big time. It's been discussed in the Times, read by the city's intellectuals and many others worldwide via its website, which 1.9 million individuals hit daily.

'Out of town' born residents may have wondered why "Essay Stirs Debate About Influence of a Jewish Lobby" was placed in the paper's 4/12 Metro section, reserved for stories about corruption trials of Brooklyn Democrats. But, while Jews are only ca. 2% of Americans, there is nothing more local than an attack on Zionism in a city where 8% of the total population, and 30% of all whites, are Jews.

Alan Finder told us that other "opinion journals" attacked the professors, "part of a group of foreign policy analysts, known as realists, who believe that international politics is fundamentally about the pursuit of power," as anti-Semitic. But he took no position on the contents of their critique. The Times hasn't taken a stand on the merits of their arguments for two reasons: Its record on Jewish issues before the creation of Israel in 1948 was shameful and got worse afterwards. A former executive editor spoke for it in the 11/14/01 issue. It's willful blindness to the holocaust was "surely the century's bitterest journalistic failure."

Continue reading ""The Lobby" and the great Protestant crusader" »

Take THAT, Henry

Nice piece in The Nation (God, I thought I'd never write those words) about how the Israel lobby brought the Ford Foundation to heel. The story goes back a few years, but what happened, basically, is that the Lobby bullied the Foundation into steering clear of anybody who thinks the Palestinians have a case. Reminds me of that bit in Mel Brooks' History Of The World where some poor guy has been in the Bastille for twenty years because he once observed, in an unguarded moment, that "Hey, the poor ain't so bad."

No news here, really, except that the Nation piece details the leading role that "progressive" Democratic congressman Jerrold Nadler played in this ideological mugging. This really took me back.

My own memories of Nadler date from twenty-five years and more ago, to the days when he was an 'umble state assemblyman from my West Side district. I was involved in the tenant movement -- there was one, then, kiddies, believe it or not. I got to know Nadler's schtick very well. Year after year, the state legislature would entertain a bill to do away with rent regulation in New York City (which is a state law rather than a local one, and thereby hangs yet another tale of Democratic mal- and non-feasance that would take me too far afield to include here). Year after year, we would get breathless, dramatic, spine-tingling, cliff-hanging bulletins from our stalwart representatives -- like Nadler -- about how hard they were fighting to keep us from sleeping on the sidewalk heating grates. Year after year, they would come home having "saved" rent regulation -- at the cost of a concession here, a concession there, which over the years have effectively gutted rent regulation.

Now Nadler is -- I don't know any kind way to say this -- a remarkably obese man:

He's about five-foot-six, as I recall, and if he's not well over three hundred pounds, then I'm Markos Moulitsas Zuniga. He would arrive at these little tenant-movement cell meetings, in some West Side apartment, swathed in a Brooks Brothers suit incorporating enough fabric to pup-tent a whole troop of Cub Scouts. He always made a beeline for the couch, and sagged into it, swabbing the greasy sweat from his brow with a handkerchief that looked very unhappy about its lot in life. He then gave us a breathless blow-by-blow account of the parliamentary maneuvers, the narrow escapes, the fiendish ingenutiy of the opposition and his own preternatural astuteness in foiling these Snideley Whipsnade tricks.

Well, stop the presses, you're thinking -- isn't this what politicians do?

Indeed it is, and I probably wouldn't remember these little séances with such hallucinatory clarity if it had only been a question of Nadler and his bodily fluids. But what amazed me even then -- and amazes me a lot more now, even though I've seen so much of it -- is the way his auditors hung breathless and admiring on his every word.

You have to understand who these auditors were. Most of them were highly intelligent, strong-minded, little old West Side Jewish ladies who, though they probably weren't actually in Spain during the civil war, would have turned the tide if they had been there. Franco, you little vontz! -- and that would have been that for Franco.

What a sad and baffling sight it was, to see these these ladies who could chew you up and spit you out and not think twice about it, treating this blubbery putz Nadler as if he were Mick Jagger and they had just found their inner groupie.

The problem, of course, was that the ladies were all Democrats -- people who had sagely decided, sometime in the Truman administration, that there was nulla salus extra ecclesiam -- no salvation outside the party. They wouldn't have been so slavish, or so easily impressed, the day after they made this fateful decision, or the year after; but year after year, decade after decade, of Babylonish captivity had taken their toll.

They ended up putting Nadler in Congress, where of course he has distinguished himself as a kind of Grand Inquisitor -- okay, a Petty Inquisitor -- on behalf of Israel. I must say it's droll to think at what a rate the moldy corpse of anti-Semitic old Henry Ford must be spinning in its unhallowed grave, to see the foundation that bears his name taking dictation from the likes of Jerrold Nadler.

May 21, 2006

Straying from the fold

Alan Smithee writes:

We Minnesotans are a pretty thick-skinned bunch, so AIPAC must have done something moderately egregious to get up Betty McCollum's nose. From the state paper of record, the Minneapolis Star-Trib:


McCollum, Israel lobby at odds

The St. Paul Democrat says local activist Amy Rotenberg mischaracterized her April 6 vote on aid to Palestinians.

WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum says a Minnesota activist for Israel's leading U.S. lobbying group maligned her and she wants an apology.

Amy Rotenberg says she did no such thing and that the St. Paul Democrat's charge is "a serious distortion."

Word of the six-week-old flap hit the Internet on Friday, triggering about 150 phone calls and e-mails to McCollum's office.

The mini-tempest stems from McCollum's vote on April 6 as the International Relations Committee approved a bill that would sharply restrict U.S. aid to the new Hamas-led government in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.


Normally I wouldn't go a micrometer out of my way to defend a democrat, but Betty McCollum has one of the better records (+362.5 out of a possible +580 on the Patrick Henry Think Tank's handy-dandy score chart) of a generally venial bunch. Trying to characterize her as 'a supporter of terrorism' is as ludicrous as calling Bret Ratner 'a talented director.' So what's going on with these heavy-handed tactics? Is AIPAC trying to kick errant congresscritters back into line?

May 28, 2006

Homousion, homoioousion, homunculi

The LA Times has a nice roundup about the "new liberal hawks" circling over the donkey train as it lumbers back to power. It's written by one Jacob Heilbrunn a chap who set himself up years ago as an expert watcher of "neo-cons" as they migrated between the donks and elephants -- second-generation cold war donkey liberals, then first-generation cold war elephant neo-cons.

Well, the latest migration of recently fledged interventionist zealots seems to be back toward the big-D Democrats, a return to home perch, so to speak.

Seems like the very palest of whiffs of the glory days when "give em hell" Harry and Dean Acheson led a vital center charging right over the 38th parallel, into two blood baths and 35 years' worth of military potlatch.

PS -- here's our man Heilhoffer as prophet, vintage 1996:
As the Gingrich forces remake the Republican Party, neoconservatism itself will most likely end up as a footnote in future histories of the Cold War, a relic of old battles as obscure as the struggles over the true nature of the Trinity in the waning days of the Roman empire.

Clinton could do worse than work to create a new vital center that steers a course between the Charybdis of left-wing isolationism and the Scylla of right-wing jingoism.

I'll leave it to Father Smith to wax indignant over this high-handed dismissal of the Council of Chalcedon.

June 19, 2006

Ku Klux PAC

Okay, okay, now that a decent interval has passed, I'll concede that the bloc of Rights and Koski-ites buttressing the donkery's Orthrian core does not include... billmon. Nor does he bear any analogy to the Klan, except in a flight of outrageous impudence.

But this particular boiling pot -- the klan-donkery connection -- as an analogy to present day organized influences, seems to be my favorite hot tub these days. So here I go again.

If we're looking for a present-day analogy to the Klan's role in the Democratic party back in the bad old days, we really don't need to look any farther than... AIPAC et al. For anybody who still thinks the donkery can be made to play a constructive role again, these are the klaverns that really need to be purged in the next 4 to 6 years, as the Klan of old was purged in the high 60's.

So far as Uncle Sam's mideast policy goes, AIPAC embodies what the Klan meant to jim crow -- its vilest, most racist and violent, oppressive, expansionist, supremacist -- but you get the picture.

Either they've gotta go, or the progs gotta go, or the progs gotta stop being progs.

Meta: anti-Semitism

Just noticed we had a comment or two claiming to detect "anti-Semitism" in posts here.

I'm not going to censor such comments, and people are free to make them, but just for the record, there will never be any posts here (and I hope not many comments) attempting to refute such charges. It's a waste of time, and at this point, I think the accusation has been so debased by overuse that it's not worth bothering about. In fact, you can't talk frankly about Israel or the Israel lobby without being called an anti-Semite, and so if there weren't some of this chaff in the air, I'd be worried.

June 20, 2006

Lobby vs. Lobby, continued

Tim D. writes:
I think the most fascinating result of the [Mearsheimer-Walt] paper is that the great sages of Middle East policy and Israel-US relations (Chomsky, Finkelstein, Neumann, Massad and the Christisons to name a few) came to such varying conclusions over the actual influence of the Lobby on U.S. foreign policy. It seems to me though, that if you take all these myriad analyses, you get something close to the reality of the situation.

To be sure, Israel has its own interests in the Middle East - the most important of which is the realization of the Zionist project (i.e. a Jewish state in the holy land with an undivided Jerusalem as its capital). The Israel lobby has been exceedingly successful in bringing American military, economic and political might to bear in furthering this primary goal. U.S. material support - in it's numerous forms - to Israel has been indispensable in helping the Zionists to vanquish and or marginalize all those who dare to oppose their plan (in the Middle East and here at home) and the Lobby has worked hard to make sure that tap of material support doesn't run dry.

That said however, the Israel lobby is obviously only one of many lobbies vying to craft U.S. foreign policy in a way that advances their interests. The counterveiling influence of corporations/multinationalscertainly cannot be discounted. They have certainly had their hands on the reigns of the U.S. foreign policy war horse far longer than Israel has. I mean has anyone here ever read Smedley Butler's famous anti-interventionist tract, War is a Racket? That was written back in 1935, yet if one were to read it now, he or she might easily believe it was published yesterday!

Nevertheless, there should be no doubt in anyone's mind that sometimes - perhaps even many times - the interests of the various lobbies happen to converge to form a single mutually-benefitting policy. For instance, one might easily imagine that toppling Saddam was desirable for the Israeli government and Exxon-Mobile. Saddam was a bitter enemy who allegedly sponsored Palestinian terrorism against Israel and he was a quota buster, pumping oil far too liberally for companies that thrive on oil scarcity and the attendent high prices.

June 23, 2006

A tale of two lobbies, Part I

There once was a foreign lobby as infamous and as potent as the Israel lobby is now. It was the cold war China lobby.

At its peak it didn't represent any part of China proper -- only a former Japanese colony off its coast, where the former Chinese regime still held sway. And yet, till 1970 or so -- about the time the Israel lobby really started hitting its stride -- this "China" lobby was the tyrant of all it surveyed on Capitol Hill -- until, that is, it got whipped like a poodle by one of its own former champions, name of Richard M. Nixon (we'll get back to that).

The lobby originated way back, during the Sino-Japanese war of the late 30's, and continued uninterrupted through a subsequent nation-wide, regime-changing civil war, and both of our own East Asian misadventures (Korea and Vietnam). Throughout this entire interval the lobby's mission remained unchanged -- get Uncle Sam to unconditionally support the regime of clownissimo Chiang, in all ways possible, at all times, and despite any counteracting influences. In this it succeeded, and grandly, for over 30 years.

Looking at its internal elements -- its roots here among us Americanos -- one might note that in addition to the usual corporate players, like arms merchants, bankers, and sundry foreign bullropers, the domestic arm of this "it girl" of the Cold War lobbies had a very significant missionary component. Goo-goos for Christ, and their trueheart pals like Pearl S. Buck, gathered about the China lobby, wanting to help the suffering benighted yellow masses, like pickpockets on new years eve.

Well, as I've said, the rig was mighty successful until, pop! someone named Mao Tse-tung figured out the best way to end the cold war as we knew it, which led through a trail awinding to our prezdick flying straight through the front door to the People's Republic, and stabbing his old old friends in the lobby square in the back.


There are no tails that can wag their dogs for ever. No one remains that useful as a fig leaf. But my story is far from over -- didn't a second Han tail soon grow out of Uncle's backside? This one too had a simple mission -- open the US up like a sardine can for a massive "co-prosperity" invasion.

... to be continued.

July 4, 2006

Death takes a holiday

My friend, ex-foreign service officer and quondam leaker of record, the notorious Mr. Y, sent me this e-mail note:
JS --

The Saddam topple was the neocons' 9/11.

All these idiots running around frantic about what's next, what's next -- hey, has there been anything here since the towers toppled? There won't be anything out of the neocons either.

Well, that may be a little too hasty. We may be overdue for another 9/11, but I'm sure we'll have to wait till we elect a Democrat to the Oval Office before topple talk can reignite at the neocon Berchtesgaden.

As long as we have Cheney in there, newly sober and sore and gut-popped, mumbling sotto-voce "Let's take it step by step this time" -- the world's probably temporarily safe from the further spread of democracy.

July 15, 2006

Hillary represents her constituency

Well, Israel's gone berserk again, and this is what Hillary Clinton has to say:
The unprovoked attacks on innocent Israelis and the killing and abduction of Israeli soldiers by the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah are dramatic escalations of violence against Israel. The United States must stand by Israel as she defends herself.

July 17, 2006

Beauty and the beast

Belle of the liberal ball Barbara Boxer has apparently suggested, on CNN, that war criminal Madeleine Albright ought to be sent as a special envoy to the Middle East. I would agree, with the proviso that Albright must parachute into South Lebanon and make her way on foot to Jerusalem. -- Well, okay, she can hitchike, if anybody will give her a lift. I know I wouldn't.

I can't seem to find a direct link to the Boxer-Albright story, but Googling around I did come up with this forgotten gem, from the year 2000. Boxer is on the Larry King show, being asked about the choice of Joe Lieberman for the vice spot on Gore's ticket. Here's what she had to say:

I was surprised, and I might say happily surprised. I think not only was this a bold choice, because when you bring down barriers, you have to be bold. So thank you, Al Gore, for being bold.

But also I think it's a winning choice. He's gone to the mainstream of our party. I think he's gotten a wonderful running mate.

Chuckie Schumer and the animatronic mummy of George McGovern were on the same show, and both praised Gore's world-historically bonehead choice in similar terms. Never say the Democrats can't agree on a message.

July 19, 2006

From Boxer to pit bull

Just ran across this unsurprising but accurate UPI report, with the stop-the-presses headline "Experts: Islam-U.S. relations at nadir." You don't say. Among other gems:
The Israeli attack on Lebanon with apparent American blessing only reinforces that view [i.e. negative attitudes toward the US], said Muqtedar Khan, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a periodic adviser to the White House.

"The way we have abandoned Lebanon, I'm not very sure if any moderate Muslims will be able to take a risk (and move toward democracy,)" he said.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., disputed that point, saying the Israeli attack was a result of Hezbollah's aggression, and Iranian patronage.

So -- is anybody really surprised that likable, humane, witty Barbara Boxer, Marin County arch-liberal, has lined right up with the other bloody-jowled dawgs of war -- the Liebermans, the Clintons -- in howling her approval of whatever monstrosity Israel chooses to commit? Can I have a show of hands, please? What, nobody? -- Oh, there you are, Kos. Thanks for your candor.

More little ducks all in a row

Here's Great Pwog Hope Russ Feingold on Lebanon:
U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold today defended Israel's right to protect itself... saying, "I don't think any country is going to let their soldiers be kidnapped, transported, killed ... without a serious response.... I do think Israel has not only a right but also a responsibility to respond to the Hezbollah attack."

...[H]e argued that Israel had been acting constructively in recent years and blamed Hezbollah, Iran and Syria for provoking the current crisis.

"They are facing a two-front war now, and it's a tiny country," Feingold said of Israel.

Feingold posted a statement on his Web site Friday saying, "I stand firmly with the people of Israel and their government as they defend themselves against these outrageous attacks."

When the roll is called over yonder...

... the Democrats will be there. Thus the Jerusalem Post:
Both chambers of the US congress were working on drafts of resolutions expressing support for Israel in its war against the Hizbullah. The House of Representatives was expected to vote Wednesday on their version of the resolution, which is sponsored by majority leader John Boehner (R-OH) and minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

The Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution expressing support for Israel on Tuesday.

The resolution was sponsored by Senate majority leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and minority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and was approved by unanimous consent.

Have Al Gore and Bernie Sanders been heard from yet? It would be a pity not to complete the set.

July 20, 2006

Another one bites the big one

I was wondering about Bernie Sanders and Lebanon. Well, this just in:
Peace activists... rallied outside the office of Rep. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, Wednesday night.

"We wanted to have a local response to tell, certainly Congressman Sanders and other people in the region, that we don't support our government giving money to Israel to be bombing civilians indiscriminately," said [a demonstrator].

The group criticized Sanders for his support of Israel, saying Israel had used American funding on arms used to attack Arab civilians.

Rep. Sanders was not in Burlington Wednesday night, but his staff released a statement to reporters. Sanders said his goal is to see a "two-state solution to the problem of Palestine," ... But he says as long as Hamas governs the Palestinian Authority and calls for war with Israel, "there will be no negotiations and no peace in the Middle East."

I can find no trace of this "statement" on any of Sanders' Web sites. My guess is that given the outlook of Sanders' Vermont constituency, he prefers to keep as low a profile as the Lobby will allow him on this issue.

July 21, 2006

From Bernie Sanders' home state...

... a very on-the-mark editorial in the Vermont Guardian:
...[O]ur leaders, including Vermont’s own Bernie Sanders, continue to cast votes in Congress that run counter to our nation’s best interests as they keep an ear cocked toward their vocal and well-financed Israel-first supporters.
Looks like some of Bernie's constituents are onto him.

Yes, but... oh, okay, just yes

From The Hill:
House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) approached Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on the floor Tuesday evening to see if she would attach her name to the most recent version of a joint resolution supporting Israel in its battle with two militant Islamic groups.

... Pelosi... wanted Republicans to include language asking the two sides to limit civilian casualties.

Boehner... told the minority leader he would bring the resolution to the floor with or without her support.

Pelosi then told him that she would back the measure, and even make a floor statement supporting it....

It's a miracle, really, that she would even ask. It does suggest some concern that elements of the base may be a little uncomfortable -- at long last -- about Israel's Guernica tactics. Nan would like to have something to tell these folks, so they'll go back into their zombie-like daze and pull the right lever in November.

Of course, when she didn't get anything to tell them, she just shrugged her shoulders and said, in essence, Oh well, fuck 'em. He who pays the piper calls the tune.

July 23, 2006

From the sublime -- no, from the ridiculous to the more ridiculous

I've always instinctively loathed Bill Maher. I couldn't even tell you why, except that his smirk puts him into a category for which my private-language term is "reactionary cynicism." (I'm a bit of cynic myself, of course, but that's a whole nother thing.)

Anyway. You wait long enough and sooner or later a guy will show you why you had a Doctor Fell response to him. Bill has finally come through:

... watching George Bush talk about Israel the last week has reminded me of a feeling that I hadn't felt in so long I forgot what it felt like: the feeling of pride when your president says what you want your president to say, especially in a matter that chokes you up a bit.... on Israel, I love it that a U.S. president doesn't pretend Arab-Israeli conflict is an even-steven proposition.... There was no entity of Arabs called "Palestine" before Israel made the desert bloom. If those 600,000 original Palestinian refugees had been handled with maturity by their Arab brethren, who had nothing but space to put them, they could have moved on....

.... the feeling I've had watching Israel defend herself and a US president defend Israel [is]... I LOVE being on the side of my president, and mouthing "You go, boy" when he gets it right.

One side of me wants to think he's trying to be ironical here, and another, stronger side -- the one that's always found Maher a smug, repellent, self-congratulatory little creep -- wants to think he's being -- well, "serious" is never the right word for any Israel apologist, but what I mean is, he really means it.

July 24, 2006

The oracle inhales the vapors...

When I venture to make a prediction, I'm always wrong -- well, nearly always -- but sometimes a guy just can't resist the urge to make a fool of himself. I've sat down again on my tripod over the navel of the earth, and the gods have vouchsafed me a vision of the October Surprise. The details are hazy, but here are the broad outlines:

Sometime late this summer or early in the fall, the War On Terror opens a new front. Maybe it will be Iran, or Syria, or maybe just US troops back in Lebanon, conducting fraternal Indian wars with the Israelis at our side, Huck and Jim in flak jackets.

Yeah, that's the ticket -- Lebanon. The Israelis will be the new Brits, and Beirut the new Normandy. There'll also be a NATO figleaf -- Tony Blair will send a few yobbos from Manchester, and maybe the Germans will get with the program this time, if Merkel's neck isn't still out of joint.

But the main point of it is that Israeli yobbos and Americn yobbos will be standing shoulder to shoulder, pouring ordnance into Lebanese apartment buildings. From the electoral point of view, that's the beauty of it: the Democrats will have to -- not just shut up, but applaud, and fall into line, and cheer on the Commander-In-Chief, because it'll be a joint Israel-US project, and you can't attack it without attacking Israel.

All Bozo has to do is send the Marines to Lebanon again -- part of a joint expeditionary force with the light-unto-the-nations -- and the Democrats will be hogtied, gagged, and hamstrung.

Maybe Israel will even take a few casualties -- lose a little ground -- contrive, if necessary, a sanguinary rocket attack on Haifa. So Uncle will have to go in and save 'em. Yeah! That's the ticket! Save Israel! That's why the censorship is letting out all this stuff about how Hizbollah is proving tougher than anybody thought.

You heard it here first.

July 25, 2006

Distinguished members of the Con-gresset

A good one here:
Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) are circulating a "Dear Colleague" letter to other members of the House, urging House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) to cancel Wednesday's address to Congress by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on the theory that his condemnation of Israeli attacks on Lebanon put him at odds with U.S. policy.

The letter reads: "The Speaker's podium reflects our nation's values. We the Members of the House, under your leadership, decide who receives that honor, and the list should not include anyone whose interests conflict with the United States."

The Democratic House members wrote to inquire about how Maliki was chosen to receive the honor, and have asked for an apology.

Who's the Sultan's favorite harem girl?

You'd think, as old as I am, that nothing could surprise me any more about American politicians' servility to Israel. But it gets me every time. How -- I ask myself -- how is it possible that nothing has changed since 1982, not to say 1967?

The latest Israeli attack on a neighboring state finds Republicans and Democrats engaged in a grovelling game of leapfrog, trying to see who can jump farther and crouch lower in obeisance to the Light Of The Nations (LOTN). Bush and company are shipping 'em high explosives in quantities the Condor Legion could only dream of. The Democrats, like the Pope, have no legions to send, but also like some of the nastier Popes of old, they yield to none in their devotion to the policing of thought. So the Democrats are trying to outflank the Bushies by attacking their pet Iraqi, prime minister Maliki, who has apparently been so tactless as to suggest that maybe the Israelis shouldn't be bombing Lebanon into the Stone Age.

Twenty-odd Congressional Democrats, led by the sometime Israeli auxiliary soldier Rep. Rahm Emanuel, have written a frothing letter to Denny Hastert. Some excerpts:

In the wake of comments made by Mr. Maliki and other members of the Iraqi leadership denouncing Israel, it is clear that their foreign policy goals are at odds with those of the United States. The Speaker's podium reflects our nation's values. We the Members of the House, under your leadership, decide who receives that honor, and the list should not include anyone whose interests conflict with the United States.
Note the taken-for-granted identification of Israel's megalomaniac ambitions with American interests.

It's hard to find words to describe the comical craziness of all this. I guess the 2006 election is going to be all about who's a bigger toady to Israel.

Oh, among the other signatories to Rahm's oath of supremacy: Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Il.), Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Steven Rothman (D-NJ), Michael McNulty (D-NY), John Lewis (D-Ga.), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Joseph Crowley (D-NY), William Delahunt (D-Mass.), C.B. Maloney (D-NY), Barney Frank (D-Mass.), John Olver (D-Mass.), Sander Levin (D-Mich.), George Miller (D-Calif.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tim Bishop (D-NY), Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) and Artur Davis (D-Ala.). Barney Frank, that pwog hero, is a particularly juicy item on the platter.

July 26, 2006

Another zombie shuffles out of the AIPAC graveyard

From the indispensable Fox News:
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that al-Maliki's failure to retreat from his comments on Israel or to criticize Hezbollah and Hamas, the terror group elected to lead the Palestinian people, is unacceptable.

"Unless Mr. Maliki disavows his critical comments of Israel and condemns terrorism, it is inappropriate to honor him with a joint meeting of Congress," Pelosi, D-Calif., said.

One of our commenters asked for the full text of the letter Rahm and the Zionics (sounds like a garage band, doesn't it?) sent to Hastert. Here is is, from the Chicago Tribade, er, Tribune:
Dear Speaker Hastert:

We are writing to object to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki's planned address to Congress this Wednesday. In the wake of comments made by Mr. Maliki and other members of the Iraqi leadership denouncing Israel, it is clear that their foreign policy goals are at odds with those of the United States. The Speaker's podium reflects our nation's values. We the Members of the House, under your leadership, decide who receives that honor, and the list should not include anyone whose interests conflict with the United States.

On Wednesday, July 19th, in reference to the conflict in Lebanon, Prime Minister Maliki said, "I condemn these aggressions and call on the Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Cairo to take quick action to stop these aggressions. We call on the world to take quick stands to stop the Israeli aggression."

Additionally, the Iraqi Parliament voted unanimously to condemn Israel, calling Israel's actions "criminal aggression." These comments and actions are in direct conflict with the position of both President Bush, and the United States House of Representatives which voted 410-8 to support "Israel's right to take appropriate action to defend itself, including to conduct operations both in Israel and in the territory of nations which pose a threat to it, which is in accordance with international law, including Article 51 of the United Nations Charter."

This is not the first time that Iraqi leadership has made statements in conflict with the interests and policy of the United States. Today, 50 Members of Congress sent President Bush a letter denouncing the hate filled comments of Iraqi Parliament Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani.

But our concerns go beyond these statements. In recent months there have been extensive reports indicating that Maliki and many in the Iraqi leadership are increasingly influenced by the government in Iran. Further, they have expressed support of terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah, the latter of which was responsible for the death of 241 United States Marines in Beirut. The House should not allow an address from any world leader who has taken such action.

This is a disturbing and dangerous trend. The goal of the invasion in Iraq was not to remove one threat in favor of another. The President's stated goal was to establish a strong liberal democracy in Iraq, which would help to bring stability to the Middle East. The aforementioned comments and actions raise serious questions about the success of this mission.

With evidence mounting that the Iraqi leadership's goals are not in the best interests of the United States -- nor the Middle East -- Prime Minister Maliki's address is inappropriate. We are unaware of any prior instance where a world leader who worked against the interests of the United States was afforded such an honor. We would like to know how Prime Minister Maliki was chosen to receive the honor, and absent an apology by the Prime Minister, urge you to cancel the address.

Dean: off his meds again

From the Associated Press:
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean on Wednesday called Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki an "anti-Semite" for failing to denounce Hezbollah for its attacks against Israel....

"The Iraqi prime minister is an anti-Semite," the Democratic leader told a gathering of business leaders in Florida. "We don't need to spend $200 and $300 and $500 billion bringing democracy to Iraq to turn it over to people who believe that Israel doesn't have a right to defend itself and who refuse to condemn Hezbollah."

Uhh, Howie -- "defending democracy in Iraq?" Is that what we've been doing? My, haven't you changed your tune.

These AIPAC Democrats -- which is to say, 99 out of 100 Democrats -- will literally say anything they're told to say. Stop making sense? No problem, boss. If AIPAC called up and said that from now on, two plus two equals five, every last one of 'em would have a press release out within the hour, shrilly denouncing recalcitrant Four-ists as anti-Semites.

Barbara Boxer recently suggested that we should send Madeleine Albright as a special envoy to Lebanon, and I agreed, on one condition. Subject to the same proviso, I suggest we send Howie to Iraq to look for some nice pro-Israel Iraqis to whom we can "turn over" the puppet regime.

Video at 11. Parental discretion advised.

It just gets better

I know, I'm turning into Johnny One-Note here, but I can't help it -- it's so delightful seeing the Mommy Party expose itself as the Mommy Dearest Party. This from my new friends at Fox News, which no doubt has its own reasons for playing this story up:
About a dozen Democratic lawmakers from the House and Senate boycotted [al-Maliki's] speech, citing al-Maliki's refusal to condemn the terror group that is currently fighting Israel in southern Lebanon.

"We understand that the prime minister has to say political things, but the long-term here is that if you mollycoddle terrorists, you give them license to continue," said Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y. "Hezbollah's function is to destroy and eliminate the state of Israel. They and their ilk would then have as their goal the destruction of all secular society throughout the region. And that is not the hand he should be strengthening long-term."

Sens. Charles Schumer of New York and Barbara Boxer of California also did not attend....

...Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., speaking after the address, said he asked al-Maliki directly if he believes Hezbollah is a terrorist organization, and the prime minister wouldn't respond....

"We kept pressing and he kept sidestepping," Ackerman said of [a conversation with al-Maliki]. "He refused to say the things we needed him to say."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also said she was not satisfied with al-Maliki's response to questions about his support for Hezbollah.

"During his address, Prime Minister Maliki spoke with conviction about 'the terrorists who are falsely claiming to be speaking for Islam and Muslims.' He missed an opportunity to single out groups fitting that description, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, and condemn their activities. If defeating terrorism is indeed the duty of all of us, as the prime minister proclaimed, the road to victory starts with identifying the enemy," Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement.

I like Ackerman's unintentionally self-revealing line -- "he wouldn't say the things we needed him to say." That is very much the point, isn't it?

I'm starting to wonder whether the October Surprise hasn't just happened. And the Democrats, of course, have landed a right hook, and a left uppercut, and judo kicks with both legs, deep into the Tar Baby's sticky innards.

Query: Why is Fox News so happy to trumpet the utterances of Pelosi, and Dean, and God help us Ackerman on this subject?

July 27, 2006

The oracle speaks

This Zionic Leb-krieg seems to have legs, so I checked in with the man himself -- the guy Sandy Berger called "that facetious preppie dickhead," our one and only link to the Foreign Service/NSC mindset, the renowned Mr Y (Of Arabia, in this case). Interview follows.

P: This Lebaon biz has its unfurling complexity, eh?

Y: Well, I suppose it does to the chittering horde of unscarred armchir strategists. [Sighs wearily] One can always elaborate this stuff, fabricate, out of whole cloth conflicting premeditations, and the like. But I prefer to look at the events themselves, at least so far as we can view them, and I see a very simple drama here, really -- one perhaps waiting offstage for a decent moment to spring itself upon the world, to be sure.

P: And that would be... ?

Y: Why, obviously, a king-hell IDF rampage. My guess is, they like the idea they're up against a real guerrilla force here -- not just young gals in blast belts. It ought to run for a while, at least till Syria is forced to play some cards.

P: Can the outside do anything?

Y: The French and their German consorts may eventually send in troops. I underline 'eventually.' Interlarding the rough edge between these two toughs could be very hazardous at the present time, so don't count on a civilized intervention till the Zionian forces have kicked a lot more stuffing out of the Hezzery. If they can, of course. I doubt the Euros want a serious piece of any suppression action.

P: Our man Smith seems inclined toward a US Marine landing scenario.

Y: [snickers] Far be it from me to gainsay Father Smith, what with his deep ties to the Maronite community and the Falange -- but I'd place my bets on a pure IDF operation. Nooo, I expect we won't see fighting jarheads dancing through the minds of voters come November, as aesthetically pleasing as that might seem now. I think the Mini-Me's will play the role all by themselves -- until, and I should add, if, both sides eventually allow in a new middle force like the Franco-German bid.

Needless to say, uncle will need to endorse whatever deputation goes there from the enlightened north of the planet -- but US boots on the beach? I'd say no. Even if the plan calls for a blitz to Damascus, this will remain a Light Of The Nations folly throughout.

P: Okay then, give me a time scale here -- from now to status quiet or quit.

Y: Damned if I know. It's a tiger ride over there right now, since neither side looks even winded to me. It could be a long waltz. Then again, its hard to tell what inside this feels like to the Israelis. They have their solid reasons both to overplay Hezzy fortitude, and underplay their own objectives. So we'll likely get the usual mishmash of cross-eyed BS in public statements and planted Op-Edery.

By the way, Father Smith's suggestion to parachute Ms. Albright into the area of conflict is an ace of a play. In fact, Nazrullah, if you're listening -- if Albright does get substituted for the younger, more agile, entirely irresistible but less wily Condi -- don't let that owly old she-witch mug of hers fool you. Watch your shins. In the clutches she's a regular Rosa Klebb.

And to be fair, she was not always old and monstrous. At Foggy Bottom it was always rumored that as a youngster, to make her bones, she whacked the estimable Doctor Che, whilst in a mountaintop love-nest embrace.

August 1, 2006

A tale of a tail

Recent events in the Levant have put me in mind the big flap a couple of months back about the Mearsheimer-Walt report, which argued for the tail-wags-dog reading of US-Israel relations. Most Lefties didn't buy the M-W thesis and continued to put their faith in what you might call the Monolithic Empire theory, which holds that Israel is a mere sockpuppet of imperial chessmasters back in Washington, or perhaps Wall Street.

Condi Rice's apparent success, a day or two ago, in putting the lid on Israel's Guernica-Part-Deux in Lebanon had the Monolithic Empire lefties congratulating themselves on their penetration. But of course here's the latest:

As Israel fought more aggressively on the ground, it continued to keep down its number of airstrikes in the second day of a 48-hour pause in the air campaign it promised the American Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.

Israel said that it would halt air operations for two days while it investigates the deaths of dozens of civilians in Qana, but said it would make exceptions to respond to "imminent threats," like rocket-launching teams, and to support ground forces.

Ms. Rice said she had accepted Israel’s explanation for resuming airstrikes barely 12 hours after the suspension was announced.

Condi "accepts" it, does she? Puts me in mind of Carlyle's comment, as narrated by William James:
"I accept the universe" is reported to have been a favorite utterance of our New England transcendentalist, Margaret Fuller; and when some one repeated this phrase to Thomas Carlyle, his sardonic comment is said to have been: "Gad! she'd better!"
Postscript: Obsessive augurs given to examining the Times' entrails might find it interesting to compare the online and print versions of the item quoted above. The print headline was "Israel Presses on Despite Agreeing to Airstrike Lull"; online it was "Israel Expands Offensive to Drive Back Hezbollah." The broken promise to poor Condi was in the lead graf in print, and buried in graf 8 online. The wording changed, too; that silly little whistling-in-the-dark spin about Israel "keeping down" its terror bombing was entirely absent in the print edition.

August 2, 2006

Another New York paper heard from

On the left, an actual item from the New York Daily News. On the right, the way the same item would have read in the newspaper of a halfway sane city:

Here is the sure way to get an Israeli ceasefire agreement right now. The United Nations must assemble a credible force of peacekeepers, announce to Hezbollah that the force is ready to secure the shell-shocked Lebanese border, inform Hezbollah that it must pull way back and completely disarm, see to it that Hezbollah does exactly that - and then lean hard on Iran and Syria to stop funding these proxy gangsters who are making war against Israel.

At which point, Israel will cease firing.

Here is the sure way to get an Israeli ceasefire agreement right now. The United Nations must assemble a credible force of peacekeepers, announce to Israel that the force is ready to secure the shell-shocked Lebanese border, inform Israel that it must pull way back and completely disarm, see to it that Israel does exactly that - and then lean hard on the United States to stop funding these proxy gangsters who are making war against all their neighbors.

At which point, Israel will cease firing.

So what's their game?

The latest diktat from Jerusalem is that Israel will keep battering Lebanon until an "international force" is deployed there. But needless to say, nations which might conceivably provide troops for such a force aren't eager to do so unless there's been a cease-fire and a political framework agreed upon between Israel and Lebanon.

So what's Israel's game here? Is the demand for an international force under impossible conditions just a figleaf for re-occupation and population removal? Or is Israel really trying to get some Western nation or nations embroiled alongside them fighting Hezbollah, and ultimately Syria and Iran?

Usually, the best way to tell what Israel really wants is to see what Democratic politicians start calling for. So far none of them have jumped on the international force bandwagon, as far as I know, which lends some support to the figleaf theory.

August 5, 2006

Another historic volte-face

An LA Times poll finds Zionophiles need to change party -- as donkey base sez they're neutrals now:
Overall, 50% of the survey's respondents said the United States should continue to align with Israel, compared with 44% who backed a more neutral posture. But the partisan gap was clear: Democrats supported neutrality over alignment, 54% to 39%, while Republicans supported alignment with the Jewish state 64% to 29%.

August 6, 2006

Between two stools

It's fun, in a grim kind of way, to see the contortions and convulsions of soi-disant Lefties who can't quite get the Israel virus out of their bloodstream. One of the droller exhibitions of this kind, made much of on certain left-intelligentsia mailing lists, comes from the facile and febrile keyboard of odd-looking and oddly-spelt Mark LeVine, shown left. LeVine's piece appeared in the online version of Tikkun, The Publication for Agonized Zionists. A few excerpts:
Has the Left Gone Mad?
By Mark LeVine

Well, Hezbollah can breathe easily. Within a few days, there's a good chance that some of the best minds of the Left will be in the Bekka Valley helping lead the resistance against the Israeli destruction of Lebanon. At least that's what a jointly signed letter to the Guardian newspaper by progressive luminaries including Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, and Arundhati Roy seems to suggest.

... According to the signers, the best approach is to "offer our solidarity and support to the victims of this brutality and to those who mount a resistance against it."

...Are my heroes Noam and Howard planning to pick up an RPG and start firing southward from the rubble of Qana? Should progressives be donating money to Hamas? Learning to crawl through tunnels and ferry the latest Iranian missiles to the front?

...[T]he ill-chosen (one can hope) words by my illustrious colleagues reflects a very disturbing trend within the Left that has emerged the last few years, and which has come to a head with the latest war: Many leaders of the movement are moving away from the commitment to non-violence that defined the struggle against the Vietnam War and the vast majority of protests against corporate globalization and the invasion of Iraq, and towards embracing violent resistance (think the Red Brigade, Bader Meinhof Gang or the Weather Underground)....

...[T]he most successful anti-imperialist struggles, such as Gandhi's in India and Mandela's in South Africa, were almost entirely non-violent, while others, like Algeria or Vietnam, produced corrupt and violent regimes in their wakes....

Hezbollah.... is also a military organization that regularly engages in violence.... Whatever its motivation and Israel's actions leading up to its kidnapping of two IDF soldiers, Hezbollah's attack has produced an unimaginably terrible price for the people of Lebanon, much as Hamas's violence has allowed Israel to achieve many goals it otherwise could not have in the Occupied Territories.

There's more, much more, all equally sick-making, but a terrible languor is creeping into my cut-and-paste finger, along with a sense that if were half a man I would go down to my local Uppper West Side recruiting station and enlist in Hezbollah. Right now.

It's a good thing that the lucubrations of Mark Levine and his ilk don't receive much circulation outside the narrow ambit of ten or twelve Beautiful Souls who wish, sincerely no doubt, that Israel was a nicer place, but who could not and cannot and will not ever be able take the side of anybody really resisting Israel. Because if LeVine and Co. were much read by the "Arab Street," as the phrase goes, both America in general and American Jewry in particular would be even more detested by the Arab Street than they already are. First you drop bombs, and then you crank up the LeVine Machine, extruding these treacly, preachy, smug, moralistic, preening, attitudinizing, self-congratulating sermonettes.

Calm down, Michael. Deep breaths. Count to ten. He's just a twit. Just a twit. Take it easy.

Okay, let's do a little text analysis, always a calming exercise. First, the glaring, sore-thumb giveaway: Hezbollah "kidnaped" two soldiers in the Israeli Army (which Levine, of course, refers to by its Orwellian euphemism, the Israel Defense Force). When you see this characterization, you need read no further. Hezbollah did not "take prisoner" two Israeli soldiers in a military skirmish -- no, according to LeVine and Fox News, it "kidnapped" them. Poor hapless innocents might as well be LIndbergh Babies, snatched from the cradle.

Then of course there's the utterly bizarre, dark-side-of-the-moon claim that Hamas' victory (what were they supposed to do? Defeat themselves?) "allowed" Israel to do things in the West Bank it could not otherwise have done. Oh those damn fool cockroaches -- er, Palestinians: every time Israel gets to feeling nice, they make it turn nasty again. No one to blame but themselves.

And the idea that the way to resist cluster bombs, tanks, rockets, and machine-gun fire is... non-violence. It's a wonderful thing, the grip this idea has on the brains of bien-pensants against whom no violence is being done. When the victims fight back, presto, they become morally indistinguishable from the perps. Even blackletter common law is more sensible than your holier-than-thou liberal, preaching non-violence to the victms of violence his government is paying for.

The (misspelt) Baader-Meinhof comparison is too stupid and contemptible to mention.

Best of all: this dumb blonde thinks Noam Chomsky is a "colleague" of his. Noam Chomsky, arguably the smartest living human, certainly the smartest I've ever met, a guy who revolutionized his own field of inquiry and has enlightened and encouraged millions with the brilliant, incisive, clear-eyed and profound work of his left hand on politics. Noam Chomsky, a one-man Five Foot Shelf. Noam Chomsky, a guy whom future generations (if there are any) will mention alongside Descartes, and Hegel, and Rousseau -- this egregious little twerp LeVine thinks Chomsky is a "colleague" of his?

Right, right. Like I'm a colleague of the Archangel Gabriel.

August 17, 2006

Ignorant as an actor

A very bold stroke from Nicole Kidman and some other Hollywood types:
Kidman condemns Hamas, Hezbollah

NICOLE Kidman has made a public stand against terrorism.

The actress, joined by 84 other high-profile Hollywood stars, directors, studio bosses and media moguls, has taken out a powerfully-worded full page advertisement in today's Los Angeles Times newspaper.

It specifically targets "terrorist organisations" such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine.

"We the undersigned are pained and devastated by the civilian casualties in Israel and Lebanon caused by terrorist actions initiated by terrorist organisations such as Hezbollah and Hamas," the ad reads.

"If we do not succeed in stopping terrorism around the world, chaos will rule and innocent people will continue to die.

"We need to support democratic societies and stop terrorism at all costs."

There's something very endearing about this. The level of the prose might almost make you think Kidman, or some other major thespian, actually wrote it. Does some variant of the word "terrorist" appear in every sentence, I wonder?

Alas, the back story to this one is fairly easy to figure out. I envision some Rumpelstiltkin-like figure from the ADL or whatever, materializing in the gorgeous Kidman's chamber; I see her scratching her incredibly pretty and incredibly empty head and agreeing that yeah, terrorism, that's, like, so not a good thing, and then painfully signing her name.

September 12, 2006

Roll over, Ed Gibbon

Head for the hills -- Marty Peretz has a blog now, called The Spine -- I guess we should be glad he didn't call it The Rock Hard Erect Penis.

Marty's maiden blog entry was a mighty essay -- 575 words, about the size of a New York Times op-ed -- in which the sage takes us to the mountaintop and gives us a really, really big-picture panorama:

... history is the spine of the present and also of my understanding of the present... history tells us about the proclivities of certain cultures and of their limits, too. History teaches us to beware of millenarians and utopians, of strongmen, of the idea of classlessness and class encrustations both, of greed, of otherworldliness, of technological solutions....
That history. Quite a Chatty Cathy. "I've told you, and told you and told you -- but do you listen?!?!
... ever since Montesquieu read the character of peoples through the climates in which they lived, we know also that there is a scientific basis to human similarity and to human difference. In any event, my reading of history is part of the spine of my thinking and of my writing. It is not only a tocsin. It is a connective.

One cannot grasp the meaning of the mass murders in Iraq without knowing something about the history of Mesapotamia. One cannot grasp French behavior in international affairs (and in internal social conflict, too) without seeing France as it has seen itself, the envoy of civilization to everyone in its arc. One cannot grasp the insistent religiosity of America without grasping that the colonies were religious commonwealths. And so on and on. History may be fragmented. But it is also whole. Is the guy channeling the ghost of Saul Bellow these days?

Lots to chew on here. Where is Mesapotamia? Arizona, maybe? What does Marty think "tocsin" means? Since when do countries have "arcs", and who or what lies within France's?

Gotta give the guy credit for one thing: writer's block he has not got. His next blog entry, after this Macaulayesque overture, is 844 words about what a swell guy Scooter Libby is.

P.S. -- In case you're wondering what the tank above has to do with Marty, it adorned one of his columns in the Jewish World Review, written in a more characteristic Peretz idiom -- the Livy of American Zionism doffs his toga and carefully lays it aside, then drops to the floor and chews the carpet for 1300 bloodthirsty, raving words.

Now that's the Marty we all know and love.

The obvious analogy...

Part whatever in my complete guide to Lobby Land: the Boers and the Zionics.

Could the future of Zionism look like the endgame of the Afrikaans Jim Crow?

I have no more then a hunch, myself. Call this an invitation to a thread. But if your answer is "no way, J" -- then be prepared to tell uz all... why?

September 13, 2006

Marty peretz, logopotamus

Marty's blog entry today runs to almost 1900 words! A sample:
Clinton and company assumed that settling the historical and religious conflict between [the Israelis and the Palestinians] would buy peace in the entire region and in the Islamic orbit beyond. But settling this conflict would be possible only if Israel were to imperil its very life. Still, and even if it did precisely that, the wars of the Arabs and of the non-Arab Muslims, too, would not cease. They will fester and flare up, as the routine mass killings in Iraq are still with us after a thousand years.
Fester and flare up -- never use one cliche where you can squeeze in two, and if you mix a metaphor in the process, well, so much the better. And what is this "thousand years" he's talking about? The last thousand years were pretty grim in Europe, too, if memory serves.

Obviously, the guy is writing this stuff in his sleep. But even so, where does he find the time? I'm in awe.

My man Tony...

... Judt, that is, not Blair, in the London Review:
Bush’s Useful Idiots
the Strange Death of Liberal America

Why have American liberals acquiesced in President Bush’s catastrophic foreign policy? Why have they so little to say about Iraq, about Lebanon, or about reports of a planned attack on Iran? Why has the administration’s sustained attack on civil liberties and international law aroused so little opposition or anger from those who used to care most about these things?...

... the willingness of so many American pundits and commentators and essayists to roll over for Bush’s doctrine of preventive war; to abstain from criticising the disproportionate use of air power on civilian targets in both Iraq and Lebanon; and to stay coyly silent in the face of Condoleezza Rice’s enthusiasm for the bloody ‘birth pangs of a new Middle East’, makes more sense when one recalls their backing for Israel: a country which for fifty years has rested its entire national strategy on preventive wars, disproportionate retaliation, and efforts to redesign the map of the whole Middle East.

Now that's telling it like it is. I'll even forgive Tony his kind words for the likes of Daniel Bell, Irving Howe, and Felix Rohatyn -- Felix Rohatyn! -- who are described in passing as "the critical intellectual core, the steady moral centre of American public life." Blech! But as the poet says, aliquando bonus dormitat Homerus -- even good old Homer is sometimes asleep at the switch.

September 26, 2006

Bomb gap closing, thank God

According to the BBC:
'Million bomblets' in S Lebanon

Up to a million cluster bomblets discharged by Israel in its conflict with Hezbollah remain unexploded in southern Lebanon, the UN has said.

The UN's mine disposal agency says about 40% of the cluster bombs fired or dropped by Israel failed to detonate - three times the UN's previous estimate.

... The devices have killed 14 people in south Lebanon since the August truce.

The manager of the UN's mine removal centre in south Lebanon, Chris Clark, said Israel had failed to provide useful information of its cluster bomb strikes, which could help with the clearance operation.

Last month, the UN's humanitarian chief, Jan Egeland, accused Israel of "completely immoral" use of cluster bombs in the conflict....

He said more than 40,000 cluster bomblets had been cleared since the fighting ended on 14 August, but many more remained scattered "in bushes, trees, hedges and wire fences". Mr Clark said information Israel had provided to help with the bomblets' clearance had been "useless"....

Hundreds of bomblets are packed into the cluster bombs, which are fired from the ground or dropped by aircraft.

The bombs detonate in mid-air, dispersing the drinks-can sized bomblets over a wide area. Those which do not explode on impact become like anti-personnel mines.

The use of cluster bombs is not prohibited under international law.

"Not prohibited under international law" -- well, it's nice to know that the Light Of The Nations(tm) is staying under the speed limit on this one.

Cluster bombs, as mentioned above, are what the antiseptic jargon of the military, and of military groupies like the Democratic Party, refers to as "anti-personnel weapons". That is, they are designed to create large areas of land where people can only go at the risk of being maimed or killed, days or weeks or months after the hot fighting is over. It doesn't matter whether the person in question is a soldier, or an olive grower, or a small child -- they're all, as the Pentagon and the Democrats like to say, "interdicted" -- if they want to keep their hands and eyes.

Cluster bombs are a classic sanitary weapon -- the way a country that can afford an air force fights a people who can't. The Israelis love 'em, and we loved 'em in Vietnam. Not surprisingly, we also loved 'em in Kosovo. Shown below, two large-scale consumers of cluster bombs:

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

NATO forces made extensive use of cluster bombs during the conflict in Kosovo.... NATO has confirmed that, in total, 1,392 cluster bombs containing 289,536 bomblets were [dropped] inside Kosovo.

Of these, the overwhelming majority were BL 755 and CBU-87B cluster bombs.... A single BL 755 cluster bomb, a munition first developed in the 1960s, contains 147 bomblets, each reportedly capable of penetrating 25 centimetres of armour with its shaped metal charge... At the same time, the bomblet's coiled casing shatters into 2,000 pre-shaped fragments which are scattered over a radius of some 30-40 metres and are designed to be effective against troops and non-armoured targets.

For a typical "non-armoured target," see the photo at the top of this post -- if you can stand to look at it again.

O ye progs -- when you have a Democrat who'd willing to say something halfway human about this topic, then you can come and knock on my door. Until then -- well, if I were a younger guy, I'd kick your teeth in.

September 29, 2006

A bit of blogrolling

Those fine chaps Cockburn and St Clair have published another little you-are-there piece by yours truly. Everybody go buy their books.

Hey, mullahs, you're next

Yesterday the House of Representatives cavalierly passed on a voice vote the Gearing Up for War With Iran Act -- what's that? Oh, sorry, the "Iran Freedom Support Act," HR 6198. The voice vote implies that nobody was bothering to oppose it.

This monstrosity was co-sponsored by two Republicans and two Democrats. The Democrats are both remote-controlled AIPAC drones. One of them you can probably guess -- it is, of course, old Vlad the Impaler himself, Tom Lantos -- and the other is, as it happens, the Count's ironic-mode counterpart, Grandpa Munster, aka Gary Ackerman, from Great Neck, Long Island.

October 14, 2006

Take it easy there, Cap'n Ahab

JSP writes:
Is American zionism about to grow a second head? Two parties, two lobbies -- all the better to scam you with, my dear?
Excerpts from the item that caught JSP's eye:
A top staffer for billionaire philanthropist George Soros has met recently with senior representatives of the dovish pro-Israel community to discuss setting up an alternative to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee....

Morton Halperin, a director of Soros' Open Society Institute and a veteran of senior positions in the Clinton, Nixon and Johnson administrations, confirmed... that a meeting took place last month.... [A]nother meeting focused on funding will take place in New York on Oct. 25.

Soros is to attend that meeting, and other major Jewish liberals are invited, including Peter Lewis, who like Soros is a major contributor to, the Web-based, liberal fund-raising group; Edgar and Charles Bronfman, former liquor magnates who are major contributors to Israel and Jewish causes; and Mel Levine, a former Democratic congressman and high-powered West Coast lawyer.... One of the leaders of the initiative is Jeremy Ben-Ami, a senior policy adviser to President Clinton....

In addition to Halperin and Ben-Ami, those in attendance at the September meeting in Washington included David Elcott, the executive director of the Israel Policy Forum, Debra DeLee, president and CEO of Americans for Peace Now; Mara Rudman, a Clinton-era member of the National Security Council and now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank; Daniel Levy, a former adviser to dovish Israeli politician Yossi Beilin who now works at the New America Foundation, another Washington think tank; M.J. Rosenberg, director of IPF's Washington office; Jeremy Rabinovitz, chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.), a congresswoman who often backs positions taken by the dovish pro-Israel groups; Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Reform movement's Religious Action Center, and his deputy, Mark Pelavin; and representatives of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, another dovish, pro-Israel advocacy group.

Now usually I yield to no one in my suspicion of anything connected with the Israel lobby, but I personally think this one might be just what it appears to be. AIPAC and much of the Lobby generally are dominated by very wild-eyed and fanatical Likudniks, and it doesn't seem surprising that this fact might make many American Jews nervous.

Establishment figures like those listed above are seldom monomaniacs. Many of them are no doubt quite devoted to Israel, either because of conviction or because Israel's importance in American politics enhances their personal influence through their connection with it. But they are also people who understand that ultimately, the various factions and blocs and sectors of the loosely-structured American elite need to play nice with each other. This is an insight that Captain Ahabs -- or better, Captain Queegs -- like Wolfowitz and Perle have forgotten, or failed to grasp in the first place.

When the famous Mearshiemer-Walt paper appeared, a few months back, I rather suspected that it might be a straw in the wind -- an indication that other factions or blocs or sectors of the aforementioned elite were starting to feel that institutional Zionomania was getting a wee bit off the reservation. It's tempting to read the Soros initiative in a similar way.

November 9, 2006

Low profile

The indispensable has some info on Israel lobby activity during the 2006 cycle. What struck me was that Lobby contributions were way down: $2.3 mil, according to opensecrets' tally, as compared with $6 mil in '04 and $8.4 in '02. Maybe there's some technical issue here that I don't understand?

The fun part was seeing who got the largesse, such as it was. Here's the top 20:






Lieberman, Joe (I-CT)




Nelson, Bill (D-FL)




Stabenow, Debbie (D-MI)




Kyl, Jon (R-AZ)




Clinton, Hillary Rodham (D-NY)




Kirk, Mark (R-IL)




Nelson, Ben (D-NE)




Conrad, Kent (D-ND)




Talent, James M (R-MO)




Santorum, Rick (R-PA)




Menendez, Robert (D-NJ)




DeWine, Mike (R-OH)




Berkley, Shelley (D-NV)




Ellsworth, Brad (D-IN)




Engel, Eliot L (D-NY)




Lugar, Richard G (R-IN)




Hoyer, Steny H (D-MD)




Burns, Conrad (R-MT)




Feinstein, Dianne (D-CA)




Cantor, Eric (R-VA)




Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana (R-FL)



Incumbent protection seems to have been a high priority. As far as I could tell, prowling around on the site, democratically designated Democrat Ned Lamont got exactly zero dollars from the Lobby -- that's right, zero; while renegade Joe was top of the pops.

As the Good Book says, Well done, thou good and faithful servant!

November 14, 2006

Battle of the -ons

So is it too crass and oversimplified to say that Murtha vs. Hoyer pits the Pentagon against Zion?

Since I personally have little use for either -on, I don't think I have a dog in this fight. Other thoughts, anyone?

November 20, 2006

The A-word

"It is wrong to suggest that the Jewish people would support a government in Israel or anywhere else that institutionalizes ethnically based oppression, and Democrats reject that allegation vigorously."
Also spracht la Nan, about James Earl 'Jimmy' Carter's latest book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. See also

Dear Jimbo: beware the claw of Lantos.

November 21, 2006

Anybody but Jane

It's ABJ time, sports fans: anyone but Jane, Jane Harman that is, serious Zionic bag carrier and quondam political rival of the Nan. Jane looks set to be -- in the next congress -- the queen of House intelligence oversight.

Can she be stopped? Can this vamp of Tel Aviv be barred from top hand position on the secrets cookie jar?

It's litmus time, folks -- lets see what the Nancompoop is holding. This is not Steny Hoyer here. There's no balance of power prudence involved. Jane is remote-controlled head to toe by Israel, period.

So we must see -- can or will the Dem caucus kick her downstairs?

Oh by the way -- the press charge for months has sweet Jane under investigation for aiding and abetting the AIPAC spy ring.

December 14, 2006

Baker and the butchers

This is a joint JSP/MJS production.


My pal and fellow towering intellect Mike Whitney sez Baker and his oil friends' plan for a slow fading dance in Iraq is up against... the Lobby!

The tension between the Bush administration and the members of the Iraq Study Group, illustrates the widening chasm between old-guard U.S. imperialists and "Israel-first" neoconservatives. The divisions are setting the stage for a major battle between the two camps....

On one side we have James Baker and his corporate classmates who want to restore order while preserving America's imperial role in the region. And, on the other side, we have the neo-Trotskyites and Israeli-Jacobins who seek a fragmented and chaotic Middle East where Israel is the dominant power.

...[R]ight-leaning Israelis will be informing their friends in the Democratic Party about the anticipated attack on Iran, as well as discussing strategies for sabotaging Baker's report. If we see the Democrats lambasting the ISGs recommendations next week; we'll know why.

Not my view, but give my bud a look-see here.
Over at the Huffington Post, one Dan Gordon, a Hollywood screenwriter and former soldier in the Israeli army, writes as follows:

One of the Study Group's co-chairs, Lee Hamilton, is a good, decent, and principled man. The other co-chair is James Baker. James Baker is to politics and diplomacy what J.R Ewing was to oil. Thus what one has is a decent face masking a much more cynical if indeed not sinister one....

This then is the Jim Baker back room deal. By committing the United States to assigning the issue of Iran's nuclear program to the UN Security Council, we are virtually guaranteeing that no action will be taken to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon!

... But like the famed ginsu knife set commercial, that's not all! What else do you get if you're one of the first two state sponsors of terror to call the one eight hundred number? Well, if you're Iran and Syria you get Lebanon and the Golan heights!

...What does Israel and Lebanon, Israel and Syria and Israel and the Palestinians have to do with Shias killing Sunis in Baghdad? ... The only reason for including Lebanon in the conversation at all is to signal to Iran and Syria that it will be offered up for grabs to them on a silver platter as well.... It is a way of saying to Iran, help us out for just a little while only in Iraq and you will get in return a swath of Shia domination that stretches from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean.... [and] if you're Syria YOU GET THE GOLAN HEIGHTS!

...That is why from Abu Ayman to Assad to Ahmadinijad, they are breaking out the banners proclaiming "Jihad accomplished."

December 29, 2006

John Edwards: 2-1/2 thumbs up from The Nation

One of the oddest institutions of our society is the "reviewer". There are respected and powerful book reviewers who have never written, or could ever write, a book. There are theater reviewers who couldn't play Yorick's skull, much less Hamlet. There are music reviewers who can't play a kazoo, and judging by some of the nonsense they publish, probably can't even read music.

But the oddest reviewers of all are the Politician Reviewers -- people like John Nichols of The Nation, who could never be elected dogcatcher, and has no conception whatsoever of the sacrifices in personal integrity, autonomy, and cleanness of mind that it takes to become a Senator, much less a President. The Nicholses of the world will never have a marble Commendatore coming to drag them down to hell, but every politician knows in his heart that Beelzebub has the reversion of his soul.

But you've got to admire the Nicholses. Their fingers fly without inhibition over the keyboards of their laptops, handing out A's and F's and carefully calibrated C-pluses to men and women who have sold their souls. I hate the politicians, hate 'em more than I can tell you, but at least they have some major skin in the game -- if a soul means anything. What's the price of entry for the Nicholses? What have they put on the line, apart from their ear for Engish prose?

Here's a bit of Nichols' latest report card on John Edwards:

The John Edwards who today announces his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination is a very different contender from the fresh-faced young senator who in 2004 bid for the party nod....

By any measure, he has a lot more to offer progressives than he did in 2004.... Edwards struggled to craft a message in 2004. After stumbling frequently.... he finally developed the "two Americas" stump speech that identified him as a candidate who was serious about broadening the national debate to include a serious discussion of the dangerous gap between rich and poor in America.

Even as he improved as a speaker and debater, however, Edwards remained a vague and frequently ill-defined candidate. He condemned President Bush's management of the war in Iraq.... But Edwards took no clear stand on the war....

Despite his flaws, Edwards did well enough in 2004 to merit another look in 2008.... Most indications suggest that Edwards gets it. That does not mean he is the perfect contender, nor that he is the perfect progressive. But he has grown a great deal over the past several years, and that growth has been in a serious, smart and savvy direction that progressives would be wise to note at this relatively early stage in the 2008 contest.

I dunno. Maybe it's not so much like a movie review as it is like a bond newsletter. And as with the writers of bond newsletters, one has to ask, how exactly have they gotten rich, apart from subscriptions to their weekly bulletin? Why should we believe them? Where do they get the confidence to hand down these... evaluations?

One thing I do know: anybody who can give John Edwards a passing grade, and promote him to "progressives" as somebody who might possibly be taken seriously, has an even tinnier ear than the average reviewer. In fact, I believe we might say, with some confidence, that he has his head up his ass so far that he's starting on his second lap.

December 30, 2006

Boxer called to heel;
Complies with alacrity

Sweetheart of Daily Kos Barbara Boxer has sinned against the Israel lobby, but seems to have done her penance willingly. According to Newsweek's drolly titled "Terror Watch!" column:
CAIR Play?
Sen. Barbara Boxer recalled an award she recently gave to an Islamic activist because of his ties to a major American Muslim organization—that critics say has ties to terrorist activities.

Dec. 29, 2006 - In a highly unusual move, Sen. Barbara Boxer of California has rescinded an award to an Islamic activist in her home state because of the man’s connections to a major American Muslim organization that recently has been courted by leading political figures and even the FBI.

Boxer’s office confirmed to NEWSWEEK that she has withdrawn a “certificate of accomplishment” to Sacramento activist Basim Elkarra after learning that he serves as an official with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). After directing her staff to look into CAIR, Boxer “expressed concern” about some past statements and actions by the group, as well as assertions by some law enforcement officials that it “gives aid to international terrorist groups,” according to Natalie Ravitz, the senator’s press spokeswoman.

CAIR, which has 32 offices around the country and bills itself as the leading Muslim-American civil- rights group, has never been charged with any crimes, nor have any of its top leaders. But a handful of individuals who have had ties to CAIR in the past have been convicted or deported for financial dealings with Hamas—another reason cited by Boxer for her action....

Ironically, just last month, Boxer had sent CAIR a letter in connection with its 10th anniversary fundraising dinner endorsing the group as a “constant support system for the American Muslim community” and praising it for its work on civil liberties. "As an advocate for justice and greater understanding, CAIR embodies what we should all strive to achieve," Boxer wrote in the Nov. 18 letter.

Boxer tells NEWSWEEK she never saw the letter to CAIR signed in her name or was even aware of the award to Elkarra before it was sent out. "I feel terrible about this," she says. "We just made a mistake. I was not in the loop. That was an automatic signature [on the letter]." But Boxer stands by her decision to withdraw the award and to distance herself from CAIR, saying she was influenced by previous critical statements about CAIR made by her Democratic colleagues Sens. Richard Durbin of Illinois and Charles Schumer of New York....

After review by her staff, Boxer was particularly concerned by claims that CAIR had refused to condemn Hamas and Hizbullah and recognize those groups as terrorist organizations,” Ravitz said.

The story so far is that la Boxer was frightened by a Chihuahua, admittedly a very loud and fierce one, namely blogger Joe Kaufman. Kaufman belongs to a genus of fauna very numerous on the margins on American Zionism; hyperkinetic one-man bands who make it their mission to follow and persecute pro virili some selected foe of Israel. Kaufman's bete-glatisant is the aforementioned CAIR. Kaufman seems to have found out about Boxer's glancing contact with this treyf organization, and trumpeted it from the rooftops, with the assistance of that eminently entertaining scourge of the liberal professoriate, David Horowitz.

It's a very rich and remarkable thing that loons like Kaufman and Horowitz can stampede a US Senator. Incidents like this always put me in mind of that wonderful scene in the movie Dumbo, where the little mouse who becomes Dumbo's pal walks out into a mean-spirited gossip-fest among half-a-dozen dowager elephants, and the massive creatures fly into hysterics, climbing tent poles, perching on chairs, cowering in horror, etc.

Apart from the entertainment value, there's some intellectual profit to be had in reflecting on the role that little saprophytes like Kaufman and Horowitz play in the ecology of American Zionist political thuggery. They're marginal, and no respectable figure in the establishment has to be compromised by any contact or association with them. At the same time, it's a shining testimony to the Lobby's hegemony that even its most base, degraded, and contemptible elements can strike fear into the heart of a prominent member of the Empire's Areopagus.

January 4, 2007

An apple rather far from the tree

Most of the time, I take the view that mini-Me, aka Fort Zion, reminds me of ourselves shrunk to wallet size, and cast into an honest-to-God literal 19th-century style frontier setting.

But just now it flashed through me that we palefaces and our feisty foster dwarf have one very grave difference: whereas we turn our white face toward the rest of the planet, assuming that among all those billions, there was, and probably will be again, a certain, well, spontaneous liking for us. A liking perhaps betrayed or lost, temporarily, through our own clumsiness. but still and all, deep down we want to be liked, and we figure we deserve to be liked, and if we're not liked, we need to know the reason why.

Mini-Me is coming, as they say, from a very different place. The Zionicals feel -- not without some justification -- that they were, and are, and evermore shall be, surrounded by hostiles.

Question to toss around the kitchen table: which national prejudice is more dangerous to global humanity (putting size and throw-weight aside, of course)?

Hard to tell, eh? Hard as a Koufax fastball.

January 13, 2007

"Our" turn at the trough

Comment seems superfluous:

Israel braced for action

In recent weeks Israel's leaders have been bombarded with increasingly doom-laden scenarios about Iran's progress towards producing a nuclear bomb, a threat that might push them towards unilateral military action....

"... Instead of... preparing for a military strike on Iran's nuclear infrastructure, the world continues to talk nonsense...." Oded Tira, the army's former head of artillery, wrote recently.

He said President George W. Bush lacked the political power to attack Iran and suggested Israel should concentrate on lobbying his opponents in the Democratic party. "We must clandestinely co-operate with Saudi Arabia so that it also persuades the US to strike Iran," he added.

January 24, 2007

Another one bites the... big one

Another entry for the Comment Seems Superfluous department. This, from the drolly named

Edwards: Iran Threat Serious

"The challenges in your own backyard – represent an unprecedented threat to the world and Israel," the candidate for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination told the Herzliya Conference, referring mainly to the Iranian threat.

In his speech, Edwards criticised the United States' previous indifference to the Iranian issue....

Hinting to possible military action, Edwards stressed that "in order to ensure Iran never gets nuclear weapons, all options must remain on table." ... Edwards also discussed Syria's recent calls for peace with Israel, saying that "talk is cheap," and that Syria was not doing enough to prove it was serious.

After opening his speech with great praise for Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Edward's ... continued to say that Israel has made many concessions in order to advance peace [but] little has been seen on the Palestinian side....

In a further display of support for Israel, Edwards went so far as to suggest that Israel should even be made a member of NATO....

I agree about NATO -- it deserves Israel as a member.

Apart from that, though -- somebody remind me why we were supposed to be excited about this guy? I haven't seen pandering at this level since Hillary went orgasmic over Israel's apartheid wall last year.

Oh, and I'd love to hear what nice Johnnie had to say about vegetative former mass murderer Ariel Sharon. But perhaps that's not for foreign consumption. Body

"The challenges in your own backyard – represent an unprecedented threat to the world and Israel," the candidate for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination told the Herzliya Conference, referring mainly to the Iranian threat.

In his speech, Edwards criticised the United States' previous indifference to the Iranian issue....

Hinting to possible military action, Edwards stressed that "in order to ensure Iran never gets nuclear weapons, all options must remain on table." ... Edwards also discussed Syria's recent calls for peace with Israel, saying that "talk is cheap," and that Syria was not doing enough to prove it was serious.

After opening his speech with great praise for Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Edward's ... continued to say that Israel has made many concessions in order to advance peace [but] little has been seen on the Palestinian side....

In a further display of support for Israel, Edwards went so far as to suggest that Israel should even be made a member of NATO....

I agree about NATO -- it deserves Israel as a member.

Apart from that, though -- somebody remind me why we were supposed to be excited about this guy? I haven't seen pandering at this level since Hillary went orgasmic over Israel's apartheid wall last year.

Oh, and I'd love to hear what nice things Johnnie had to say about vegetative former mass murderer Ariel Sharon. But perhaps that's not for home consumption.

February 27, 2007

Cluster fuck

A sourly humorous bout of shadow-boxing in the Senate over cluster bombs. The four horsemen of humanitarian militarism, Leahy, Sanders, Feinstein and Mikulski, have introduced a bill that would "limit" the use and sale of cluster bombs -- or well, sort of halfway pretend to limit them:
2. No funds appropriated or otherwise available to any Federal department or agency may be obligated or expended to use, sell, or transfer any cluster munitions unless--

(1) the submunitions of the cluster munitions have a 99 percent or higher functioning rate;

(2) the policy applicable to the use, or the agreement applicable to the sale or transfer, of such cluster munitions specifies that the cluster munitions will only be used against clearly defined military targets...

3. The President may waive the requirement under section 2(1) if, prior to the use, sale, or transfer of cluster munitions, the President--

(1) certifies that it is vital to protect the security of the United States; and

(2) not later than 30 days after making such certification, submits to the appropriate congressional committees a report....

Blah blah, you can fill in the rest. In effect, the great humanitarians mandate the use of nice new well-functioning cluster bombs, not those crummy old ones, unless the President should want to use the crummy old ones.

This toothless bill adds some tech detail to last year's Feinstein/Leahy amendment, which simply specified that cluster bombs were not to be used against civilians. (Neither bill, of course, contains any provision for enforcing this ban.) Last year's amendment failed in the Senate, 70-30, with fifteen Democrats voting against it:

  • Bayh
  • Biden
  • Clinton
  • Dodd
  • Inouye
  • Landrieu
  • Lautenberg
  • Lieberman
  • Lincoln
  • Nelson (FL)
  • Nelson (NE)
  • Pryor
  • Rockefeller
  • Salazar
  • Schumer
And why did they vote against it? The Hill has the answer:
“Perhaps unfortunately, the issue of cluster munitions came about so prominently by Israel’s use or misuse of cluster munitions in its conflict with Hezbollah,” Colby Goodman, a program manager at Amnesty International, said. “It was seen by some as a focus on criticizing Israel...."
So we can't say it's a no-no to use cluster bombs on civilians, because that might reflect badly on Israel. Pretty breathtaking, huh?

Obama, in an uncharacteristic display of relative ballsiness, actually voted for the amendment last year. Perhaps on account of that, The Hill says

... Obama has a tougher row to hoe with Jewish voters. A survey last week by the Jerusalem newspaper Ha’aretz ranked him 17th out of 17 presidential candidates on a scale of friendliness to Israel.
Or maybe it's just that he's a schvartzer. The New York Sun adds:
[Ha-Aretz's] chief Washington correspondent, Shmuel Rosner, said... "His supporters will come mainly from the left wing of the Democratic Party and from the African-American community — from constituencies which are traditionally not that supportive of Israel."
Poor Barack. All that bluster about Iran and he still can't get the time of day from the Israelis.

Clinton and Schumer and the rest of last year's cluster-bomb fan club may get a little wiggle room on this year's amendment. The Hill reports that

AIPAC is not taking a position on the cluster-bomb curbs this year, according to a spokesman for the group. Zionist Organization of America President Morton Klein offered conditional approval of the Feinstein-Leahy bill: “I have no problem ensuring that our allies receive more effective and efficient cluster bombs … unless it would impact on our allies receiving cluster bombs they need at critical times."
That Klein. A heart as big as the West Bank.

March 4, 2007

Barack kisses the ring

I predicted here a few days ago that Barack Obama would soon find a way to make his obeisance to the Israel lobby, and I was vindicated sooner than usual. Barack appeared before a regional conference of AIPAC and laid it on thick. He spoke with his usual facile lyricism of a trip to what he called the "Holy Land":
I flew on an [Israeli military] helicopter to the border zone. The helicopter took us over the most troubled and dangerous areas and that narrow strip between the West Bank and the Mediterranean Sea. At that height, I could see ... how close everything is and why peace through security is the only way for Israel.

Our helicopter landed in the town of Kiryat Shmona on the border. What struck me first about the village was how familiar it looked. The houses and streets looked like ones you might find in a suburb in America.... Then, I saw a house that had been hit with one of Hezbollah's Katyusha rockets.

Barack is very good with code words. Kiryat Shemona is a town on the Lebanese border -- a town built on the ruins of an Arab village named Halsa. The present town, whose name means "city of the Eight," refers to a group of Jabotinskyite adventurers, including the fairly well-known Josef Trumpeldor, who were killed in 1920 after attempting to take possession of another border town called Tel Hai. They seem to have believed that eight resolute Zionists would suffice against what Trumpledor's ideological comrades called the "Arab horde."

In this case, as in more recent ones in the same region, they were mistaken. Halsa, from which the "hordes" who overran Trumpeldor and his comrades came, conveniently became "abandoned" later, and Kiryat Shemona now stands above its buried ruins. It is a bit of a tourist destination for Israelis; there's a toboggan run, and a chairlift up into the nearby mountains.

Kiryat Shemona was a bloody shirt for the late Menachem Begin. "Nooooo more Katyushas over Kiryat Shemona," he used to declaim to the wild cheers of his followers. This oratory, of course, paved the way for the Lebanon invasion of 1982.

You've got to give Barack credit. "Kiryat Shemona" before an AIPAC audience is red meat indeed; it's like talking to Serbs about the Field of Blackbirds. Of course exoteric ears would not, perhaps, quite grasp what signal was being sent here. They would probably just think he'd picked some town at random. But Barack, I daresay, does nothing at random.

He went on to talk about Iran:

...we should take no option, including military action, off the table.... Iranian nuclear weapons would destabilize the region and could set off a new arms race. Some nations in the region, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, could fall away from restraint and rush into a nuclear contest that could fuel greater instability in the region—that's not just bad for the Middle East, but bad for the world, making it a vastly more dangerous and unpredictable place. Other nations would feel great pressure to accommodate Iranian demands. Terrorist groups with Iran's backing would feel emboldened to act even more brazenly under an Iranian nuclear umbrella. And as the A.Q. Kahn network in Pakistan demonstrated, Iran could spread this technology around the world.
Here's his take on last summer's jolly little war:
... when Israel is attacked, we must stand up for Israel's legitimate right to defend itself. Last summer, Hezbollah attacked Israel. By using Lebanon as an outpost for terrorism, and innocent people as shields, Hezbollah has also engulfed that entire nation in violence and conflict....
Oh, and don't forget to send money:
...we must preserve our total commitment to our unique defense relationship with Israel by fully funding military assistance and continuing work on the Arrow and related missile defense programs. This would help Israel maintain its military edge and deter and repel attacks from as far as Tehran and as close as Gaza.
All in all, a more polished performance than John Edwards' recent pole-dance for the same outfit; but that's the difference between a high-class whore and a Tenth Avenue streetwalker.

March 7, 2007

Waziristan: The new Darfur?

Some of my best friends are Zionists. No, really. I recently got an email from an old pal of mine, a guy who fundamentally knows better but can't quite kick the habit. He was fulminating about Waziristan.

Nuke 'em! he wrote.

I was a little startled. My friend -- call him Saxo -- doesn't take the War On Terror very seriously, or the Clash of Civilizations. On the other hand, he really doesn't think well of Muslims generally. (Some years ago it was just Arabs, but the scope has expanded, what with Iran and Sudan and Malaysia and whatnot.) I know his family, and so have some sense of what he imbibed around the dinner table, back in the Fifties and early Sixties, and especially after '67. It's easy to see how this happened, to an otherwise intelligent guy, if you know the back-story.

Still -- nuke 'em? And Waziristan? Not exactly a world-historical place. A nasty place, perhaps, but there are lots of nasty places in the world. There's Staten Island, for example. Or Williamsburg. Saxo wouldn't want to nuke them. I think.

I asked Saxo what he had against Waziristan. I would have been surprised if he had mentioned Qaeda, and he didn't. He did mention the plight of women. This was good strategy on Saxo's part. He knows I have a soft spot for women.

It didn't quite click, though. Nuclear feminism? Incinerate the women of Waziristan, in order to save them? I love a paradox as much as the next Hegelian, but that was a little much even for me.

Although I know Saxo quite well, from of old, I can't presume to say what exactly is going on in his brain -- what conversations he's had with whom, or why one thing is more important to him than another. But I did do a little web research.

The gravamen of the Waziristan "issue" seems to be that Pakistan is not much of an ally. They've got this unruly province on their Afghan border, and they can't or won't call them to order.

So the point is...? It's obvious enough: as in Darfur, Something Must Be Done. By "us", of course, and with boots on the ground or bombs from the air, as the case may be. And oddly enough, the people about whom Something Must Be Done are... Muslims.

Pervez Musharraf: the new Prince Sihanouk? I met Sihanouk years ago, and I'm snob enough to mention, oh so casually, that I even had dinner with him. Talk about Old Money.

I haven't met Musharraf. He must be quite a guy, though, to have clawed his way to the top in a pretty competitive milieu. But it's starting to look as though certain components of the imperial camarilla may be dissatisfied with him -- or with his country.

Is it because of what they've done -- or because of who they are?

March 14, 2007

The poor ain't so bad

Remember Mel Brooks as Louis XVI in History Of The World, Part I?

[Rimbaud's father has been thrown in prison for making an offhand remark at a party]
King Louis XVI: What did he say?
Mademoiselle Rimbaud: He said, "the poor ain't so bad."
King Louis XVI: [shocked] What a thing to say! "The poor ain't so bad!" Huh, you're lucky he's still alive!

Barack Obama encountered just such a Brooksian reception at AIPAC, according to the Times:

Less experienced than Mrs. Clinton in the thicket of Jewish and Middle Eastern politics, he became a bit tangled in the eyes of some.... Several... conferencegoers said they were concerned by Mr. Obama’s remark Sunday in Iowa where, in a reference to the Middle East, he said, “Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people.”

.... Mr. Obama has said in the past that both Israelis and Palestinians had “suffered” because of the lack of a peace agreement, and a spokesman said on Tuesday that Mr. Obama believed “the security of Israel should be America’s starting point in the Middle East.” Yet by singling out Palestinian suffering on Sunday, Mr. Obama could be tempting fate....

“Awarding first place in the suffering matrix is odious and infelicitous,” said Rabbi Steven Silver... “I think a lot of Americans would find that comment offensive, too.”

The extravagant hair-tearing rhetoric of Israel fans is a never-failing source of delight -- not just odious, but infelicitous! Perhaps Rabbi Silver is a descendant of Dogberry*?

If so, his son appears to have missed the hysteron-proteron gene. At least as quoted by the Times, Silver fils' comments are a bit more coherent and composed:

Mr. Silver’s son, Jesse, a college student who supports Mrs. Clinton, said he was spreading the word at the conference about Mr. Obama’s remark.

“It’s just clumsy of him to say that on the eve of the Aipac conference,” Jesse Silver said. “His inexperience is showing.”

"Inexperience," it seems, is the official line here, articulated by young Jesse Silver and duly echoed by the Newspaper of Record. Personally, I wonder. If my esteemed colleague Mr Owen Paine is correct and Obama has already got the nomination sewn up, maybe he has concluded that he doesn't need to pander to AIPAC at quite the historically mandated level. Is this another straw in the wind? Has the Lobby peaked?

*"Masters, it is proved already that you are little better than false knaves; and it will go near to be thought so shortly."

March 23, 2007

Garlic! Quick, more garlic!

Yikes! Lantos alert, from the Interpole Express:

"This administration has done nothing to punish Iran," said Representative Tom Lantos, a California Democrat who is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "The method I don't favor on Iran is to bomb their nuclear facilities. The method I favor is to starve them of resources, which can only be done through sanctions."

Leesten to zem, ze children of ze night! What music zey make....

March 28, 2007

The hype-o-meter hits the red zone

I should read the Huffington Post more often. There's nothing more delightful than movie folk getting all world-historical. Here's Mia Farrow (remember her)?

"One World, One Dream" is China's slogan for its 2008 Olympics. But there is one nightmare that China shouldn't be allowed to sweep under the rug. That nightmare is Darfur....

[E]qually disappointing is the decision of artists like director Steven Spielberg -- who quietly visited China this month as he prepares to help stage the Olympic ceremonies -- to sanitize Beijing's image. Is Mr. Spielberg, who in 1994 founded the Shoah Foundation to record the testimony of survivors of the holocaust, aware that China is bankrolling Darfur's genocide?

... Corporate sponsors like Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, General Electric and McDonalds, and key collaborators like Mr. Spielberg, should be put on notice.... Does Mr. Spielberg really want to go down in history as the Leni Riefenstahl of the Beijing Games?

Whoa! "Collaborator?" "Leni Riefenstahl?" I guess the Fur are the new Jews -- because Khartoum is the new Baghdad? Or is that Tehran?

So many targets, so little time.

April 7, 2007

Soros sandbagged?

My old pal Lenni Brenner has an interesting take on the Soros/AIPAC/Obama flap:

[Soros] long ago left Judaism behind, but he kept quiet about this because he "did not want to provide fodder to the enemies of Israel." But now [he thinks] it's time for the American Jewish community "to rein in the organization that claims to represent it."....

Many Americans also want Israel to deal with Hamas, concerned for horrific Palestinian living conditions, without sharing the billionaire's naive imperial mentality. But nuking AIPAC was too much for Obama. His campaign immediately announced that

* "Mr. Soros is entitled to his opinions. But on this issue, he and Senator Obama disagree...."

Soros is modern proof of Sancho Panza's proverb. He told Don Quixote that "in this world, the follies of the rich pass for wise sayings."... Soros gave the Democrats $28 million in 2004, knowing his party to be demagogues pandering after Zionist cash, vainly hoping that they would beat Bush. The 3/21 Sun, New York's Zionist daily, was 'right on the money' when it explained Obama's problem.....

"The Soros article puts Democrats in the awkward position of choosing between Mr. Soros, a major funder of their causes, and the pro-Israel lobby, whose members are also active in campaign fund-raising."

Soros cash would buy Obama media ads in Democratic primaries. But taking it means AIPAC billionaires buying ads for Clinton. On the other hand, denouncing Soros doesn't mean him running ads against Obama. And, if he gets nominated, he can reasonably expect Soros to fund him against the Republican. Soros's guileless reformism has ended him up with less, not more, influence in inner circles of his lesser evil.

June 14, 2007

Lantos alert

Thus the Count:

"Communism was not the only monstrous phenomenon determined to destroy free and open societies," said Lantos, who is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Lantos, a Holocaust survivor, said he had fought against Nazism and communism, and "it is now my privilege to fight against Islamic terrorism determined to take us back 13 centuries."

Our man made this final fusion of fiends at the dedication of Washington's wonderful new bronze replica (shown left) of the Tiananmen students' famed "Sister Freedom" statue, which was itself a clumsy papier-mache copy of the Statue of Liberty. The CIA needs to recruit more art students, obviously -- this monstrosity was clearly cobbled together by a cabal of aspiring MBAs and computer programmers.

Much here to rechew, isn't there, for all us thoughtful ruminants. Casting the silly thing in bronze certainly ups the kitsch factor of the original. Nicely mirrors the degeneration of the idea of liberty itself.

September 6, 2007

Vicisti, Zionista

The unspeakable Alan Dershowitz's ongoing vendetta against Norman Finkelstein has succeeded in hounding Finkelstein out of a job at DePaul. One would have thought that the Catholic Church, if any institution on earth, might have been able to stand tall against the Zionist thought police, but apparently not so. I was struck by one passge in a news item on Finkelstein's last day at DePaul:

As the professor left to consult with his lawyer, students picked up placards with slogans like "Norman Finkelstein, Target of Hate Campaign," "Norman Finkelstein, Righteous Jew," and "Fight Academic Terrorism," and marched to the offices of DePaul's political-science department.

There the protest gathered steam, and adherents. Well over 100 students-- most from DePaul but a handful from nearby Columbia College Chicago -- as well as some faculty members and local residents, joined in chanting, "Stop the witch hunt. Tenure now," as city police officers attempted to keep them from disrupting traffic.

Aha! The cops said the magic word.

September 10, 2007

Not-so-dual loyalties

I've been reading with pleasure Mearsheimer and Walt's recent book, The Israel Lobby. Among other delights, this quote from Eric Alterman:

But we ought to be honest enough to at least imagine a hypothetical clash between American and Israeli interests. Here, I feel pretty lonely admitting that, every once in a while, I'm going to go with what's best for Israel.... Perhaps it was a strategic mistake for America to rush to Israel's aid in 1973, but given the alternative, I really don't care. As Moshe Dayan told Golda Meir at the time, the "third temple" was crumbling. Tough luck if it meant higher gasoline prices at home.
Candor obliges me to note that although I think Alterman is a kind of human stink-bomb, there is apparently one area where we agree, or would have agreed in 2003 (I don't know what he thinks now). That area is gas prices. The higher they go, the happier I get.

Israel, on the other hand....

October 13, 2007

Less than meets the eye
Clinton Steps Away From Pro-Israel Lobby on Measure to Rein in President

Washington - Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton has built a reputation for strictly adhering to the pro-Israel line, but she now appears, for the first time, to be supporting legislation that is opposed by pro-Israel lobbyists.

Clinton announced last week that she would co-sponsor an amendment, proposed by Virginia Democrat Jim Webb, that would require the president to seek congressional approval before taking military action against Iran.

Ho hum. Dog bites man. This item was greeted with a certain amount of excitement in some quarters that I could name, but won't. Wow, these quarters wondered, is she feeling the heat from the grassroots? Is she defying the Lobby? Will she keep it up? Has she left the fold?

Dream on.

She hasn't left the fold, and won't. The Lobby has given her a pass, which any lobby is always willing to do for any given loyal lackey from time to time, as long as there are enough aisle-crossers left to give 'em a majority.

Hillary is such a valuable asset that the Lobby doesn't want her to have to take any unnecessary heat until she's safely ensconced in her husband's former chair. -- Well, maybe she'll use a different chair.

Regardless of chairs, I would bet that no intern, no matter what kind of underwear he or she might sport, will distract Hillary from her mission -- which is, of course, the same mission that her husband pursued so sedulously, without the low comedy.

Strange to think that the only person who might possibly make me miss Bill Clinton is... Hillary Clinton.

January 7, 2008

Score one for Dr van Helsing

(Editor's note: This post temporarily lost in the editor's own personal Bermuda Triangle. Sorry, Owen.)

At least the new year brings good tidings to the Bay Area: the poor pwoggie people of the left coast's commanding heights won't have Tom Lantos to kick them around anymore.

January 25, 2008

His Massa's voice

A letter from Senator Obama to the US ambassador to the UN:

Dear Ambassador Khalilzad,

I understand that today the UN Security Council met regarding the situation in Gaza...

I urge you to ensure that the Security Council issue no statement and pass no resolution on this matter that does not fully condemn the rocket assault Hamas has been conducting on civilians in southern Israel... All of us are concerned about the impact of closed border crossings on Palestinian families. However, we have to understand why Israel is forced to do this...

The Security Council should clearly and unequivocally condemn the rocket attacks, and should make clear that Israel has the right to defend itself.... If it cannot bring itself to make these common sense points, I urge you to ensure that it does not speak at all.


Barack Obama
United States Senator

"Ensure that it does not speak" -- that really ought to be the motto on the Israel lobby's coat of arms. The Latin would be nice and compact -- "Ne loquatur", if memory serves.

The correct point of reference for Obama may not be Jack Kennedy, or even Al Smith as Owen suggested earlier today. I'm starting to think it's Sammy Davis Jr.

Khalilzad himself is a bit of a house nigger, if I may be forgiven the phrase, so he and Barack probably understand each other very well. Here's Wikipedia:

Khalilzad received his PhD at the University of Chicago, where he studied closely with strategic thinker Albert Wohlstetter, a prominent nuclear deterrence thinker and an opponent to the disarmament treaties....

From 1979 to 1989.... Khalilzad was an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. During that time he worked closely with Zbigniew Brzezinski, the Carter Administration's architect of the policy supporting the Afghan Mujahadeen resistance to the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan....

In 1984 Khalilzad accepted a one-year Council on Foreign Relations fellowship to join the State Department, where he worked for Paul Wolfowitz...

From 1985 to 1989, Khalilzad served in President Ronald Reagan's Administration as a senior State Department official advising on the Soviet war in Afghanistan and the Iran-Iraq war.... and guided the international program to promote the merits of a Mujahideen-led Afghanistan to oust the Soviet occupation....

He is one of the original members of Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and was a signatory of the letter to President Bill Clinton sent on January 26, 1998, which called for him to accept the aim of "removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power" ....

February 11, 2008

One down, one to go

Mike Flugennock passed this welcome bit of news along:


U.S. Rep. Lantos, Holocaust survivor, dies

Rep. Tom Lantos, the only survivor of the Holocaust elected to the U.S. Congress... died on Monday after recently being diagnosed with cancer.... Lantos was born in Hungary and as a teenager twice escaped Nazi labor camps. He was active in the anti-Nazi underground before coming to the United States in 1947 on an academic scholarship....

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Lantos was "the embodiment of what it meant to have one's freedom denied and then to find it and to insist that America stand for spreading the benefits of freedom and prosperity for others."


Whether they like or not, Condi might have added.

Chuck Schumer apparently was kept away from the microphone on this occasion, contrary to the Washington proverb -- which just shows, perhaps, what Beltway wisdom is worth. But there was one inevitable, ineluctable, incurable nuisance who predictably jostled his long melancholy face into the frame:


Holocaust survivor and Nobel peace laureate Elie Wiesel, speaking on CNN, said of Lantos: "He was one of those spokesman in Congress whose voices are needed ... whenever he spoke it was always for the victims; victims of injustice, of forgetting, victims of diseases, victims of dictatorships and totalitarianism."


The "victims of forgetting"! Why, exactly, does this phrase make me laugh? Partly, it's the tin-eared, algebraic way that Wal-Marters of rhetoric like Wiesel put together their tropes. It's a purely combinatorial exercise: start with "victims" and then list some bad things -- flatulence, haemorrhoids, a hyperactive gag reflex.

Of course the world offers a vast harvest of miscellaneous victims, all presumed to be crying out for representation and memory -- highly selective memory, for the most part -- from the likes of Wiesel and Lantos. But the victims of forgetting! Man, there's a passel of those. Doing them justice is a tall order even for a guy who repeatedly outsmarted the Nazis -- to hear him tell it.

But it's not just the visible machinery of the rhetoric that amuses me so about Wiesel. It's also the relentlessly weepy emotional register, shallow and stereotyped as its means of expression may be.

Everybody has heard singers or fiddlers with an unvarying exaggerated vibrato -- a vibrato wide enough to walk on and fast enough to induce convulsions. They use it for Rossini, they use it for Handel. It's the same vibrato when they sing piano and when they sing forte. It's the same on long notes and short ones, dissonances and consonances, on-beat and off-beat, important notes and passing tones, appoggiature and acciaccature... a uniform inch-thick gelcoat of expressive treacle slathered obsessively over every visible surface.

Wiesel's reflexive threnodies always make me hear, in my mind's ear, some such Gypsy violinist or suburban chazzan. Boot him up, and the elegiac warble quickly crescendos to ear-splitting volume and crystal-shattering pitch. You can't turn it down, you can't mute it, where the hell is the remote -- only recourse is to pull the plug.

So let's look forward to the day when Lantos and Wiesel are reunited in that great schmaltzitorium in the sky, to wail in good close tremulant harmony for all the "victims" of anything anywhere, to whatever audience Heaven may afford. Since it's Heaven, of course, we know that every ham will there receive his longed-for, endless encores.

February 17, 2008

The Drones Club

Don't let it be said that we never report good news here at SMBIVA. Stephen Spielberg has withdrawn his "artistic" advice from the Peking Olympics; he's pissed that the Chinese haven't kowtowed to the current Israeli-humanitarian moral panic over Darfur.

Okay, okay, it's not completelygood news. It's yet another Hollywood useful idiot staggering off stiff-legged and zombie-like on a mission from Mount Zion, whence notoriously the word goeth forth. That's the bad part. The good part is that it may be possible to watch the Olympics after all without risking projectile emesis.

The Lobby has signed up quite a few nice-looking airheads, it seems, for this righteous Darfur campaign: there's Mia Farrow and George Clooney, among others. Really, one wishes the days of Childrens' Crusades and St Theresa were not past. How I would love to see these earnest folk trooping away to Sudan in nicely-tailored camos, to put their hide where their mouth is.

April 5, 2008

The permanent government speaks, Part Deux

From Ha-Aretz:
Obama, Clinton, McCain to vice-chair Israel 60th anniversary panel

U.S. Democratic senators and presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are scheduled to join Arizona senator and Republican presidential hopeful John McCain as vice-chairmen of the National Committee for Israel 60th....

The committee will also be co-chaired by former American presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and every living former U.S. secretary of state, including Henry Kissinger, have signed on to serve on the committee as well.

Change... we can... believe in.

April 7, 2008

Researchers at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem..
(Where else?)
... found a link between a gene called AVPR1a and ruthless behaviour in an economic exercise called the 'Dictator Game'.
Great, now they can start breeding for it.

April 10, 2008

With friends like these....

From the LA Times:
Allies of Palestinians see a friend in Barack Obama
They consider him receptive despite his clear support of Israel.

CHICAGO — It was a celebration of Palestinian culture -- a night of music, dancing and a dash of politics. Local Arab Americans were bidding farewell to Rashid Khalidi, an internationally known scholar, critic of Israel and advocate for Palestinian rights, who was leaving town for a job in New York.

A special tribute came from Khalidi's friend and frequent dinner companion, the young state Sen. Barack Obama....

Today, five years later, Obama is a U.S. senator from Illinois who expresses a firmly pro-Israel view of Middle East politics, pleasing many of the Jewish leaders and advocates for Israel whom he is courting in his presidential campaign. The dinner conversations he had envisioned with his Palestinian American friend have ended....

And yet the warm embrace Obama gave to Khalidi, and words like those at the professor's going-away party, have left some Palestinian American leaders believing that Obama is more receptive to their viewpoint than he is willing to say.

Their belief is not drawn from Obama's speeches or campaign literature, but from....

Two words: Wishful thinking. The thing that drives the whole Obama phenomenon, actually.

Hmmm. LA Times. Who planted this story, I wonder? Ma Scorpion is on the ropes.

April 17, 2008

Worth a thousand words

From today's NY Times:
Palestinians Fight Israelis in Gaza; Toll Exceeds 21

Palestinian child on bike after Israeli rocket attack
Mohammed Abed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Wounded Palestinians lay near the car of Fadel Shana, a cameraman for Reuters who died in a missile attack on Wednesday in Gaza.

At least 18 Palestinians, many of them civilians including children, and three Israeli soldiers were reported killed in heavy fighting.

I'm not the only one who has observed that that photo editors are the best thing about the New York Times. In this case they have splendidly chosen an image that gives the lie to the paper's party-line headline.

I happened to see this when I was trying unsuccessfully to think of something to say about the Obama-Clinton dustup last night in Philadelphia. (The flag pin question, I'm told, was extensively explored.)

The kid in the foreground brought me back to reality. He's what Obama and Clinton agree on.

May 16, 2008

On a more cheerful note

Is it just me, or is the Democratic primary campaign characterized by an even higher than usual level of stultifying, drivelling imbecility? It's delightful that the only interesting moments in it have been provided by a man of God from Chicago.

God and His fans have now been firmly escorted off the stage, so that people like ABC's Jake Tapper can turn their brilliant, secular, merit-class minds to the issues that really matter.

The Party of God has been busy elsewhere, however, providing news that I for one find pretty encouraging:

Lebanon reverses decisions that angered Hezbollah

BEIRUT — The Lebanese government late Wednesday formally rescinded decisions that sparked days of violence in the country, a move aimed at easing tensions between American- and Iranian-backed political camps vying for power in the country.

... Lebanon's information minister said the government would back off on decisions announced last week to declare illegal the Shiite Muslim militia Hezbollah's private fiber-optic telecommunications network and to fire the pro-Hezbollah head of security at Beirut's international airport.

"Since the government is greatly concerned with the higher interest, the government decided to approve the rescinding of the two decisions," Ghazi Aridi, the minister, said in a televised appearance.....

"There is no winner as a result of what happened, but there is a loser," he said, "and that is Lebanon."

Well, no, Ghazi, the loser is Israel. While Bush blusters about "appeasement" in Jerusalem, and Hillary assures the Israel lobby that she's not just ready, but downright eager to commit nuclear genocide on Mini-Me's behalf, Israel's actual position steadily worsens in the Northern theater, and doesn't really look all that good anywhere else, either. Presumably the hysteria of the Lobby's rhetoric -- and that of its gofers in both parties -- is in inverse proportion to the rosiness of the outlook.

Hezbollah appears to be well on the way to picking up all the marbles in Lebanon, and if some kind of deal with Syria about the Golan is really in the works -- as many Middle East entrail-readers seem to believe -- then we can confidently attribute any interest Israel may at last be showing in serious negotiation to its worries about the God boosters in Lebanon (and, of course, Iran).

It's hard to believe that the Israelis really think Syria could provide any significant help against Hezbollah. But they're operating these days like a riverboat gambler on the brink of going bust. Maybe they think that if they can embroil Syria in some kind of conflict with Hezbollah, it'll at least relieve some of the immediate pressure.

Score one for the King of the Universe. You go, God!

May 23, 2008

Poetic justic (almost)

Two Israeli fighter aircraft threatened to shoot down a private jet transporting Tony Blair after coming under the misapprehension that the aircraft was staging a potential terrorist attack.
With Tony Blair on board, the misapprehension was quite understandable. One can only regret that on this occasion the Israelis exhibited uncharacteristic restraint.

May 24, 2008

The Only Democracy In The Middle East (TM)...

... is apparently still very frightened of Norman Finkelstein -- even without tenure, and as far as I know, without an academic job:
Israel denies entry to high-profile critic Norman Finkelstein

The Shin Bet security service detained and deported an American Jewish professor who is a prominent critic of the Israeli occupation when he landed at Ben-Gurion International Airport on Friday.

Professor Norman Finkelstein was interrogated for several hours and held in an airport cell before being put on a plane back to Amsterdam, his point of departure. Finkelstein said he was told he could not return to Israel for 10 years.

The Shin Bet said Finkelstein "is not permitted to enter Israel because of suspicions involving hostile elements in Lebanon," and because he "did not give a full accounting to interrogators with regard to these suspicions."

However, in e-mail and phone interviews with Haaretz after leaving Israel for Amsterdam, Finkelstein said, "I did my best to provide absolutely candid and comprehensive answers to all the questions put to me. I am confident that I have nothing to hide. Apart from my political views, and the supporting scholarship, there isn't much more to say for myself: alas, no suicide missions or secret rendezvous with terrorist organizations. I've always supported a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders. I'm not an enemy of Israel."

Finkelstein visited Lebanon a few months ago and met with Hezbollah operatives there, and subsequently published articles.

Finkelstein.... recently left DePaul University following pressure by Jewish organizations and individuals, including Professor Alan Dershowitz.

June 18, 2008

The freedom to comply

A friend of mine, who still works in the belly of the Credentialling Sector beast, sent me the following clip, from a publication with the narcotic name of Inside Higher Education:

Michigan Severs Ties to Controversial Publisher

In September, the University of Michigan Press faced intense criticism from pro-Israel groups... over its distribution of a book called Overcoming Zionism, which argues that the creation of Israel was a mistake and urges adoption of the "one state" solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.... Michigan wasn't the publisher, but it distributed the book under a deal with Pluto Press, a leftist British publisher with extensive lists on the Middle East and international affairs.

Some critics of the book demanded that Michigan stop distributing the book, which it briefly did, and cut ties to Pluto immediately. The university declined to do [cut ties], and resumed distributing the book, citing both contractual obligations to Pluto and concerns that halting distribution because of content would raise issues of academic freedom. By the end of this year, however, Michigan will no longer be distributing the book or have any ties to Pluto Press.....

Among those who publish with Pluto are Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, bell hooks, and Ariel Dorfman....

.... Peggy McCracken, an associate dean at Michigan who is chair of the executive board of the press, said that politics wasn't the issue. She said that... Pluto doesn't have peer review on the Michigan model.... Pluto uses peer review on proposals and chapters, but not the finished manuscript.

....McCracken added that "certainly the free and open exchange of ideas is the foundation of everything we do at the university."

A little touch of deadpan Irish humor there, I suspect, in that last graf from Ms McCracken.

Stories like this -- the next most recent discussed here was the purge of Norman Finkelstein -- always delight me with the contrast between Academia's self-image, as a place for Ms McCracken's "free and open exchange of ideas", and the utter poltroonery with which it nearly always responds to ideological witch-hunts.

Back in the Red Scare days, the Unis obligingly got rid of all their Reds, and nowadays, they can almost always be relied on to cave in promptly to indignant e-mails from Israel fans.

It all leads one to wonder a bit about the concept of "academic freedom". It's a little strange -- isn't it? -- that academics should claim entitlement to some kind of freedom which isn't apparently available to the rest of us.

Presumably the justification is the broader social benefit that accrues to us all from these fearless thinkers and scholars, boldly

Voyaging through strange seas of thought, alone

... regardless of conventional wisdom, heedless of prejudice and superstition, willing and eager to challenge all unquestioned assumptions, and so on.

Well, there might me something to say for this idea if the Unis were really anything like that. But of course they aren't; Michigan's servile kowtowing to the Israel lobby is the way Academia actually works, ninety-nine times out of a hundred.

So I say the hell with academic freedom. Let the professoriate get used to the same kind of labor discipline as the proletariat. Away with the fig leaf. Let's candidly say (what is in fact the fact) that Unis exist to indoctrinate the young; to justify inequality with a factitious gilding of "merit"; to defend received ideas, and to call groupthink "peer review".

Let's get Laputa back on the ground again.

June 19, 2008

Killing for kindness

Generalissimo Mia Farrow wants to send in the mercenaries:

Activists turn to Blackwater over Darfur

Mia Farrow, the actress and activist, has asked Blackwater, the US private security company active in Iraq, for help in Darfur....

Ms Farrow said she had approached Erik Prince, founder and owner of Blackwater, to discuss whether a military role was either feasible or desirable.

She acknowledged that many people might have reservations about Blackwater being involved in Darfur – the company’s men were involved in the fatal shooting of 17 Iraqi civilians last September – but said the threat of violence to refugees meant all options had to be explored....

Mr Prince has raised the possibility of a role in Darfur for security companies.

Ms Farrow, who represents Dream for Darfur, a human rights group, and other lobbyists this week lambasted the UN Security Council for its “shameful” failure to halt killings in the Sudanese province....

“How long will you continue to allow the government of Sudan to manipulate this body?” Ms Farrow asked council members. “Did Adolf Hitler get to choose which troops should be deployed to end his genocide?”

It's a fascinating exercise in the sociology of military humanism to explore the tangled web of nested and interlocking committees, coalitions, front groups, and so on that branch out and return to this "Dream for Darfur" outfit. Ex-Clintonites and various tentacles of the Israel Lobby octopus(*) are conspicuous, but there are some wonderful free-lance eccentrics too; DfD itself lists at the head of its advisory board one "Bob Arnot," whose occupation is described as "Humanitarian". I think this must be the same Bob Arnot who used to be an NBC News correspondent, but was fired because his cheerleading for the Iraq war was too over-the-top even for NBC.


(*) Including that ubiquitous old stager Ruth Messinger, a short-period comet in my sky since I moved to the Upper West Side of Manhattan thirty years ago.

June 30, 2008

I always kinda wondered...

... just why Tony Blair and "New Labour" generally were so very keen on the Iraq war. Comes now an interesting piece in The Palestine Chronicle that sheds some light:
Before New Labour was invented, the Labour party was more sympathetic to the Palestinians. Jon Mendelsohn of the Labour Friends of Israel has explained how it changed: '"Blair has attacked the anti-Israelism that had existed in the Labour Party. Old Labour was cowboys-and-Indians politics, picking underdogs to support, but the milieu has changed. Zionism is pervasive in New Labour. It is automatic that Blair will come to Labour Friends of Israel meetings."'

One of Blair’s first acts on becoming an MP in 1983 was to join Labour Friends of Israel. But the major change only occurred after he rose to control of the Labour party. To carry out his planned policies, he needed to try to break the funding influence of the trade unions. So he needed an ally with ample funds.

In 1994, a legal friend and colleague of his, Eldred Tabachnik, Q.C., the former president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, introduced him to Michael Levy, a pop music mogul and fundraiser for Jewish and Israeli causes....

Levy expressed his willingness “to raise large sums of money for the party” if there was a “tacit understanding that Labour would never again, while Blair was leader, be anti-Israel”.

The result: Levy ran the Labour Leader’s Office Fund to finance Blair’s campaign in the 1997 General Election. Levy in effect made New Labour possible....

But, Blair needed a constant source of funds if he was to reduce the influence of the unions – and, it seems, he needed to hide its source lest it be questioned. One of the better known figures at Labour Friends of Israel is David Abrahams, a Jewish property developer.... Abrahams took on part of the task of secretly funding New Labour. He gave more than £650,000 to the Party under four other people’s names – a move since admitted to be unlawful by the Prime Minister Gordon Brown but which has had no legal consequence....

Levy became our “special envoy” to the Middle-East despite having a serous conflict of Interest. He was supposed to negotiate impartially with Palestinians and Israelis but he had acted as a fundraiser for former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak as well as lobbying for Israel in the UK. He has both a business and a house in Israel and calls himself an ‘international Zionist.’...

Gordon Brown

Gordon is more personally immersed in Zionism than Blair. It is something he grew up with in his childhood. He told a recent gathering, ‘I have been proud to be a member of Labour Friends of Israel over three decades. My father used to spend many weeks in Israel, he was the chairman of the Church of Scotland’s Israel Committee. He went on visits to meet people twice a year for more than 20 years.’

... One of Gordon Brown's first acts after assuming the Prime Minister's role was to accept an appointment as Patron of the Jewish National Fund founded in 1901. The Israeli government sold to this Fund the land seized from Arab refugees – and then made this land only available for Jews to settle on. It planted forests over the uprooted olive trees of former Palestinian settlements. It currently owns about 14% of Israel....

[Brown] has ensured continued Jewish funding of New Labour by appointing Mendelssohn of Labour Friends of Israel as his chief fundraiser for the next election. He has also appointed former British ambassador to Israel, Simon McDonald, as his chief foreign policy adviser. Israel has expressed satisfaction with the choice, saying he is "a true friend to Israel."... [Brown's] new Middle East Minister is Kim Howells, a former chair of Labour Friends of Israel. The Director of Labour Friends of Israel is David Mencer, a former volunteer for the Israeli Defence Force.

October 11, 2008

Another one bites the dust?

The Wall Street Journal reports:
The Obama campaign said it was a mistake for an outreach coordinator to join a meeting last month attended by leaders of two controversial Muslim groups....

Minha Husaini, newly named as head of the campaign's outreach coordinator to Muslims, attended a discussion session Sept. 15 with about 30 Muslim leaders and community members in suburban Washington.... Participants included leaders of the Council of American-Islamic Relations [CAIR] and the Muslim American Society, which have been cited by the government in the past for ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.

In August, the campaign's previous coordinator, Mazen Asbahi, resigned.... after questions arose about his brief tenure on the board of an Islamic investment fund along with a controversial Illinois imam....

Thursday, campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt, responding to questions about the September session in Springfield, Va., said Ms. Husaini wouldn't have attended had she known that Council of American-Islamic Relations and Muslim American Society leaders were going to be there....

One attendee at the Springfield meeting was Mahdi Bray, executive director of the Muslim American Society's Freedom Foundation. The Justice Department has asserted in court proceedings that the society's organizers were members of the Muslim Brotherhood, a global group promoting political Islam.

Nihad Awad, executive director of CAIR, also attended the session, as did the group's legislative director. The government named CAIR an unindicted coconspirator in the Justice Department's racketeering prosecution last year of alleged Hamas fund-raisers.

It would be fun, wouldn't it, to see how this three-degrees-of-separation anxiety about "controversial" groups would work out if it were applied to other religious contexts -- Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, Hindu -- or hell, Buddhist, if it comes to that.

November 10, 2008

Peace, shmeese

The mental Babylonian captivity of many Lefties by Obamadulation continues, with richly humorous results.

One of my lefty mailing lists has recently been burning up the fiber with a debate about just how bad Rahm Emanuel is. Predictably, the Obamaphiles are saying he ain't so bad -- one earnest fellow even went so far as to say that Rahm's views, far from being Likudnik, were closer to Peace Now.

Turns out there may be more to this than I would have thought, though not in quite the same sense that Rahmbama's defense attorney intended. Here's a snippet from Peace Now's position paper on the infamous Israeli apartheid wall:

At the present stage in the conflict the fence is a necessity, however Peace Now believes that this fence should run only or as close as possible along the Green Line....
Disappointing -- Israeli liberals, it seems, can be as feeble, wishy-washy, and yes-butnik as American ones.

December 27, 2008

Happy Hanukkah, from holy Zion

240 dead so far, in an Israeli aerial bombing attack on the Gaza Strip, launched with characteristic shit-on-the-carpet coarseness by the Boers of the Middle East on December 27. Joy to the world, peace on earth, light in the darkness, goodwill toward men? Not if the soldiers of Zion have anything to say about it.

They're droll, the Israelis. This little exercise in technologically-mediated risk-free mass slaughter has a "code name", as every self-respecting massacre must: Operation Cast Lead. A slightly opaque phrase unless you happen to have heard the Hanukkah song that refers to "cast-lead dreydels".

So it's a little Hanukkah celebration: spin the dreydel, kill a few dozen Palestinians, spin, kill, spin, kill. This is the meaning of the Festival of Lights in Israel: God miraculously gave us the ability to murder anybody we want, anytime we want to. Baruch atah Adonai!

I was trying to think of parallels. Hiroshima? Wrong scale, and too off-the-scale. Dresden or Coventry? But those took place in the setting of a relatively evenly-matched conventional war between states.

Then it came to me: Of course.


A faraway people, of whom we know nothing

Here's Mister Hope and Change responding to the Israeli Condor Legion's famous victory in Gaza:

Obama 'monitoring' Gaza strikes: spokesman

HONOLULU, Hawaii (AFP) — US president-elect Barack Obama is "monitoring" the deadly violence in the Gaza strip....

In a July interview with The New York Times, Obama said he didn't think that "any country would find it acceptable to have missiles raining down on the heads of their citizens," in reference to rockets fired from Gaza into Israel.

"If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that," Obama said. "And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing."

Sounds like the Jerusalem Boers got the message, Obie.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post dolefully opines:

Israeli Airstrikes on Gaza Strip Imperil Obama's Peace Chances

Israel's airstrikes on Gaza yesterday.... could scuttle any hopes the incoming Obama administration harbored of forging an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal....

"Now I think what the Obama administration faces is at least two years or more before they can really think of having any serious movement" on the peace process," [said Anthony H. Cordesman, a military analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies].

That must be a load off their minds. Talk about dodging a bullet.

December 28, 2008

What, me worry?

From TPM Cafe:

Obama Refuses To Endorse Gaza Attacks PLUS Young Jewish Bloggers (Klein, Yglesias and Ackerman) Do Us Proud

By M.J. Rosenberg - December 28, 2008, 10:42AM

On Meet The Press this morning, David Axelrod was asked about Gaza by David Gregory....

Axelrod said, predictably, that we have one President at a time. He also said that Obama understood the "urge" to respond militarily.

"The urge." That's it. None of that "of course Israel has the right to defend itself" stuff which was Bush's response to everything....

When Obama feels strongly about anything, the "one President at a time" mantra is abandoned. When he wants to avoid being boxed in, he invokes it. Under pressure to follow Nancy Pelosi's example and just endorse the attack, Axelrod punted. Big time. I hope the Israelis understand what this means.

I wish Axelrod said more but, in this case, silence was golden. Axelrod sent a signal. After Jan. 20th, America will be an "honest broker." That is what both sides need.


The oldsters are cheering on the Gaza attacks but the Jewish "best and brightest" think ethically and not ethnically....

"I hope the Israelis understand what this means." I dare say they do, MJ. Your capacity to find good news in the Obama herbal-tea leaves, no matter how they fall, is an inspiration to all of us.

The "best and brightest" to whom Rosenberg refers all take pretty much the same line: the Israelis are being silly and short-sighted, if not downright "idiotic". The Gaza attacks are not in their interest. If only Matt Yglesias vel sim. were in the Israeli cabinet, the Light Of The Nations would be pursuing a much more intelligent and nicer strategy.

Considering that stunts like this are the way that Zionism took state power in the first place, and has sustained itself there for my lifetime, and has successfully beaten off during that time every remote chance of peace breaking out -- considering all these things, the "idiots" in Jerusalem might have some justification for thinking that they understand their bloody brutal business better than a troika of underage beautiful-soul yesbutnik bloggers like Klein, Yglesias, and Ackerman.

January 1, 2009

Wally Shawn: much smarter than Ehud Olmert

A recent piece by actor Wallace Shawn in The Nation is quite typical of much well-meaning but imbecile commentary, by American liberals, on the Middle East:

It is not rational to believe that the Palestinians in the occupied territories will be terrorized by force and violence, by cruelty, by starvation or by slaughter into a docile acceptance of the Israeli occupation. There is no evidence that that could possibly happen and mountains of evidence to the contrary.
I call this the Insanity Defense. What's happened to those Israelis? They're acting... crazy! Wally would rather believe that they've somehow gone off the rails than that they cold-bloodedly mean, and always have meant, to exterminate or chase away a whole people and take their land.

In fact they are acting, of course, under the plain ineluctable logic of Zionism, as clearly foreseen and bluntly articulated by Jabotinsky and Herzl and Ben-Gurion. They've acted on this logic for, what, three generations now, and made steady progress. Who exactly is going to stop them? Why should they fear that anyone might?

(Do you think they're worried about Obama? Puh-leeze.)

Benny Morris -- recently granted an exceptionally ample spot on the New York Times op-ed page -- has famously argued that the Palestinians are to the Israelis as, say, the Iroquois are to the Americans. History, to the defeated, may say alas but cannot help or pardon -- as the man said.

This is a deeply repellent and revolting argument, but face it, Wally: there's nothing irrational about it.

It's what all those Israel Bonds went to support. What did you think?

January 2, 2009


Here's a cogent comment on an earlier post:

Michael: you may be mistaking the final objective of Greater Israel with the partial objective of the current invasion of hurting Hamas, destroying its policing and aid-delivering abilities, deligitimizing it and reducing it to a complicit organization like Fatah. This is a hypothesis, and the strategy may not work, but it's not just a liberal delusion. See [Uri Avnery's] lead article on Counterpunch today.
Uri Avnery is a lot more sensible than Wally Shawn, and probably is in fact more intelligent than Ehud Olmert. And the piece is well worth reading. But there's still an odd line of reasoning in it:
Hamas has now become the current Satan, and the PLO is considered by many in Israel almost as a branch of the Zionist organization. The logical conclusion for an Israeli government seeking peace would have been to make wide-ranging concessions to the Fatah leadership: ending of the occupation, signing of a peace treaty, foundation of the State of Palestine, withdrawal to the 1967 borders, a reasonable solution of the refugee problem, release of all Palestinian prisoners. That would have arrested the rise of Hamas for sure.

But logic has little influence on politics.

"The logical conclusion for an Israeli government seeking peace" -- but they're not seeking peace. They're seeking victory on the classical Zionist terms, whether that means actual expulsion and/or slaughter of the Palestinians, or their subjugation into the complete powerlessness and non-resistance that characterizes an Indian reservation here at home (one of Benny Morris' favorite points of reference, by the way).

Avnery apparently thinks they may be sowing the wind and will reap the whirlwind, which may be true or may not. What, after all, would happen if they did frogmarch all the West Bank and Gaza Palestinians into Jordan and Egypt respectively? Would there actually be a price to pay, sooner or even later? One would hope so; but they might well get away with it. They've gotten away with a lot. Who's to say that won't continue?

Avnery also suggests that the Gaza campaign will turn into a repeat of the recent Lebanon debacle. Again, it might or it might not. Gaza's a lot smaller than Lebanon and Hamas, with all respect, is not yet on a par with Hezbollah. Taking calculated risks is what politicians and generals do for a living.

Avnery also points out -- correctly, I'm sure -- that this Gaza stunt is partly driven by the upcoming Israeli elections. But given the chauvinistic and bloody-minded theater of cruelty that constitutes Israeli political culture, this too is anything but illogical.

The point that seems important to me is that behavior like this, far from being illogical, is ineluctable. It's absolutely implicit in the whole Zionist project. What's illogical is the yesbutnik stance: Yes to the basic Zionist undertaking, but but but -- play nice!

* * * * *

By the way, that's Vladimir Jabotinsky shown above on an Israeli banknote. Benny Morris might say -- and he'd have a point -- that this is much like us Amurricans putting Indian exterminator Andrew Jackson on ours.

January 4, 2009

Missing in action

The Gaza massacre is now in its ninth day. The boots are on the ground.

And the man shown above, usually so articulate and eloquent, remains mute.

Cat got your tongue, Obie?

January 5, 2009

Drones real and metaphorical

The rather gripping lede of a report today from Gaza by Safwat al-Kahlout in the Christian Science Monitor reads, "The Israeli drones are driving me crazy."

Me too, Safwat. Here's Daily Kos hero senator Harry Reid, on Meet The Press:

GREGORY: Let me ask you about the ground invasion into Gaza. Do you think on the part of this Israeli -- of the Israelis this was offensive or defensive?

REID: ... Let’s understand the background. For eight years they’ve been firing rockets into Israel. They’ve become more intense the last few months. Israelis have been killed, maimed and injured. Sometimes more than 200 a day coming into Israel.

If this were going on in the United States from Vancouver, Canada, into Seattle, would we react? Of course we do. [T]his terrorist organization, Hamas, has got to be put away....

GREGORY: And they’re in power in the West Bank.

REID: That’s right. and Israel, for -- since 1967, controlled Gaza. They gave it to the Palestinians as a gesture of peace. And all they got are a bunch of rockets in return.

GREGORY: So you think that Israel ought to move forward and try to remove Hamas from power?

REID: They have to....

GREGORY: Should there be an immediate cease-fire?

REID: If the Hamas organization will agree and there is some degree of certainty that they will follow through.... Otherwise, Israel has to continue till they stop the rockets and mortars coming into Israel, maiming, injuring...


REID: ... and killing Israelis.

GREGORY: So you’re in sync with the Bush administration on this point?

REID: Yes, I am.

Of course one expects Democratic politicians to slavishly regurgitate whatever the Israeli propaganda ministry scripts for 'em. But I have to admit, sometimes their grinning dog-faced shamelessness takes my breath away.

January 7, 2009

I didn't publish this photo...

... The New York Times did. So you guys from the ADL, don't call me; address your complaints to Pinch Sulzberger.

I have to admit, though: it made me laugh, in a characteristically saturnine way.

The good, the bad, and the pliable

-- Hello, I am Quisling.
-- Of course. And your name?

Thus Glenn Kessler in the Washpost:

Unintended Consequences Pose Risks for Mideast Policy
Obama Breaks His Silence, Vows to Work for Peace Deal

... After days of studied silence on the Gaza conflict, Obama promised yesterday "to hit the ground running" on achieving a broad Middle East peace deal.

"We are going to engage effectively and consistently in trying to resolve the conflicts that exist in the Middle East," he told reporters, adding that "the loss of civilian life in Gaza and Israel is a source of deep concern to me, and after January 20th I am going to have plenty to say about the issue."

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice traveled to the United Nations yesterday to meet with Arab and European diplomats on possible terms of a truce, pressing the Bush administration's case that a cease-fire must be permanent and not grant Hamas the ability to rebuild its military arsenal. There is little indication that Obama and his team differ significantly from that approach.

Obama's a wonderful man: he can talk and talk without saying anything. This particular breach of silence amounts to a continuation of silence by other means.

The Kessler piece is rather interesting actually. It suggests that Israel's immediate goal in Gaza is to weaken Hamas politically enough for the quislings of Fatah to take control there and run the place for Israel's benefit, as they now do in the West Bank. In other words, this is a war for -- Fatah!

It's not as crazy as it sounds. And Kessler is undoubtedly right, too, that Obie is right on board this Bantustan/Petain strategy and the rivers of gore that will flow to float it.

January 8, 2009

The shit-eating US Senate

We shouldn't over-revere the Founding Fathers. Still, they built well, according to their lights. The US Senate, for example, was meant to be a bulwark against the dire peril of democracy, and it has served that purpose admirably. To that extent, the old boys in the wigs, wherever they may have gone, can be justifiably proud of their achievement.

But wouldn't they be a little embarrassed by the abject, cringing, servile boot-licking, and the gibbering, depraved, self-imposed and self-embraced imbecility that characterizes the Upper House in our day.?

Today's Senate resolution cheering on Israel's barbarities in Gaza(*) gives us a fine exemplum of Auden's lines --

Intellectual disgrace
Stares from every human face;
And the seas of pity lie
Locked and frozen in each eye.
Connoisseurs of Doublespeak will find much to enjoy in this document. I'm not quite sure what my own favorite bit is, but this passage is a strong contender:
[The Senate encourages] the President to work actively to support a durable, enforceable, and sustainable cease-fire in Gaza, as soon as possible, that prevents Hamas from retaining or rebuilding the capability to launch rockets and mortars....
In other words: "cease-fire" just got redefined as "Israeli victory."


(*) Passed unanimously; Democrats and Republicans alike scrambled like Filene's shoppers for the privilege of fellating the Israel Lobby.

January 15, 2009


Latest from our pal Mike Flugennock:

All my goodhearted, decent, well-meaning Upper West Side friends are still sooooo looking forward to the Inauguration. The hicks are out! Complete sentences are in!

I mention Gaza, and I get these looks -- it's as if I just shat in the champagne punch.

January 23, 2009

Goliath's peace plan

Here's Obama's notion of settling the Gaza problem:

Hamas must meet clear conditions: recognize Israel's right to exist; renounce violence; ...abide by past agreements.... end its rocket fire; Israel will complete the withdrawal of its forces from Gaza; the United States and our partners will support a credible anti-smuggling and interdiction regime, so that Hamas cannot rearm.

... we look forward to Egypt's ... commitment to end smuggling from within its borders.

....As part of a lasting cease-fire, Gaza's border crossings should be open to allow the flow of aid and commerce.... This assistance will be provided to and guided by the Palestinian Authority.

In short, the precondition for peace is... surrender.

Note that there's a great deal Hamas "must" do -- all of which amounts to ceasing national resistance. And in return, Israel must... must... why, you know, there isn't a damn thing Israel "must" do! Vague wishes, couched in the agentless passive voice, are expressed that the Palestinians might be graciously allowed to eat a little bit.

But they have to surrender first! And they also have to give up any notion of choosing their own leaders. That will be done for them, in fact already has been done, and if they don't like the Quislings of the "Palestinian Authority" -- well, too bad for them.

Is there anybody out there who can detect any difference between this line and the stuff we were hearing on the same topic from Bush?

February 24, 2009

Fox in the chicken coop?

Apparently Chas W. Freeman, president of the Middle East Policy Council (MEPC), really has been appointed chair of the National Intelligence Council (NIC).

It's Obie's first interesting appointment if so; Freeman is an old diplomatic hand who formerly served as ambassador to Saudi Arabia, and he and MEPC have been strikingly severe critics of Israel.

Needless to say the Israel lobby and its noise machine have been going crazy.

Just a gesture toward the Saudis, maybe? Or will Freeman actually have some influence on policy? It would be fun to see him and Rahm Emmanuel in the same room; Freeman is no dope and has a sharp tongue in his head.

This will be interesting to follow. There have been some recent indications that Israel and its advocates are beginning to wear on the nerves of at least some elite elements in US society. I would love to believe that this is another straw in the wind.

March 11, 2009

I spoke too soon

Coupla weeks ago I very grudgingly allowed as how Israel critic Chas Freeman's appointment as chair of the National Intelligence Council was "Obie's first interesting appointment". Oh, what that cost me! I hate to be proved wrong.

I needn't have agonized so much -- all I had to do was wait. Vicistis, Galileae! The Israel lobby made Obie cave, and now Freeman's brief return to government is over.

Story here:

Freeman's own account, full of characteristic drolleries:

April 14, 2009

I call it the Madman Theory, Bob

There's a lot of guessing and second-guessing these days about whether the new gang of loons in charge of Israel will go ahead and bomb Iran. The former gang wanted to, but Bush told 'em no.

This must be quite a disappointment to Israel and its Lobby. They seem to have expected the Iraq incursion to be a stepping-stone toward Teheran. Instead, the ill-fated adventure forced our imperial geniuses to reach a sub-rosa understanding with Teheran and depend on its good offices to pull our chestnuts out of the fire. The net result has been an enhancement in Iran's stature -- just the opposite of the desired effect.

Nevertheless, it seems unlikely that Iran has many friends among the American elites. There's always been an "Arabist" element in the foreign service, and there are American business interests who have close ties with the Saudis and the petro-sheikhs and petro-emirs. It's not obvious that Iran, however, has even that kind and degree of entree to elite circles here in New Rome.

Obie's new proconsul for Iranian affairs, Dennis Ross, is of course a well-known froth-at-the-mouth Zionist. Among other distinctions, Ross is the chair of the oddly-named "Jewish People Policy Planning Institute" (JPPPI), which in a recent report referred to Iran as a "demonic" power. (There's a good deal else in this report that's quite interesting, notably its pessimistic assessment (from a Zionist point of view) of the decline of American power, the rise of Russia and China, and of course the increased status of Iran.)

Roane Carey, at, recently wrote a piece that attracted a certain amount of attention, but I think he's barking up the wrong tree:

[Israel's] leadership takes it for granted that Iran is indeed hell-bent on producing a nuclear weapon and is not inclined to take a chance that a nuclear Iran will play by the MAD (as in mutually assured destruction) rules hammered out by the two Cold War superpowers decades ago and never use it.
Carey's giving too much credence to Israel's on-the-record story here. I don't think they're very worried, really, about a conjectural Iranian A-bomb. What they're worried about is Iran's increasing status and influence. This puts 'em in some rather comical binds -- trying to sweet-talk Syria away from its chumminess with Iran, for example, without being willing to give them anything in return (like say the Golan Heights).

Of course the idea that Iran and the US might come to some sort of closer understanding must be quite nightmarish for Israel and the Lobby. No doubt Ross can be relied on to do everything in his power to prevent such a catastrophe, and probably that's exactly why Obie appointed him, come to think of it. But wouldn't it be nice to throw a real monkeywrench in the works? And wouldn't an Israeli bombing raid make a swell monkeywrench? Who knows, it might even result in Iraq heating up again! Win/win!

Is Obie able or inclined to stop 'em like Bush did? Possibly, but by no means certainly.

Although the Bush II administration was exceptionally close to Israel, by previous Republican standards, the Democratic party has historically been much softer on Israel and notoriously depends for its funding much more heavily on Israel-lobby sources. It would be fair to say that Obie has surrounded himself with Zionist mad dogs -- Hillary Clinton, Rahm Emanuel, Ross -- and it's quite possible that he thinks that since the Bush strategy in Iraq "worked", the need for Iran's goodwill may no longer be quite so urgent. Maybe he even thinks he could sell the Iranians the notion that Israel went rogue: "Hey guys, you know how crazy those Israelis are, we tried to stop 'em, but they're just off the reservation. Olmert, now Olmert was a crook, yeah, but at least you could talk sense to him. Netanyahu, Lieberman, though -- these dudes are psychotic."

April 20, 2009

Soldier of Zion

Shown shmoozing above with porcine mass murderer Ariel Sharon is Democratic representative Jane Harman. It's always been well understood that Jane is a drone aircraft, remote-controlled from a bunker in Jerusalem, but it gets better. CQ Politics has a fun item today:

Sources: Wiretap Recorded Rep. Harman Promising to Intervene for AIPAC [Spies]

Rep. Jane Harman , the California Democrat with a longtime involvement in intelligence issues, was overheard on an NSA wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department reduce espionage-related charges against two officials of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee....

In exchange for Harman’s help, the sources said, the suspected Israeli agent pledged to help lobby Nancy Pelosi , D-Calif., then-House minority leader, to appoint Harman chair of the Intelligence Committee after the 2006 elections....

Seemingly wary of what she had just agreed to, according to an official who read the NSA transcript, Harman hung up after saying, “This conversation doesn’t exist.”

....Harman is said to have been picked up on a court-approved NSA tap directed at alleged Israel covert action operations in Washington....

[C]ontrary to reports [at the time] that the Harman investigation was dropped for “lack of evidence,” it was Alberto R. Gonzales, President Bush’s top counsel and then attorney general, who intervened to stop the Harman probe.

Why? Because, according to three top former national security officials, Gonzales wanted Harman to be able to help defend the administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, which was about break in The New York Times and engulf the White House....

Justice Department attorneys in the intelligence and public corruption units who read the transcripts decided that Harman had committed a “completed crime,”.... And they were prepared to open a case on her, which would include electronic surveillance approved by the so-called FISA Court....

Then-CIA Director Porter J. Goss reviewed the Harman transcript and signed off on the Justice Department’s FISA application.....

But that’s when, according to knowledgeable officials, Attorney General Gonzales intervened.

.... Gonzales said he “needed Jane” to help support the administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, which was about to be exposed by the New York Times.

Harman, he told Goss, had helped persuade the newspaper to hold the wiretap story before, on the eve of the 2004 elections.

April 23, 2009

The thought police strike again

This just in, from On The Inside, a journal of the incarceration sector -- or no, sorry, that's Inside Higher Education, a journal from the closely-related credentialling sector. So hard to tell 'em apart sometimes. Anyway, here's the story:

Crossing a Line

Everyone involved in the dispute over William I. Robinson talks about lines being crossed....

His critics say that he crossed a line of professionalism by sending e-mail to all of the students in one of his courses material about "parallel" images of Nazi and Israeli attacks. Some students view the material as anti-Semitic, and they quit the course and filed a grievance against him.

Faculty members are in the process of selecting a panel that will consider the charges against Robinson and determine whether to recommend that a standing faculty panel conduct a full investigation of the incident.

Needless to say, the ADL heard about this -- somehow; perhaps the aggrieved students, in their extreme agony of mind, did a Web search -- and the grand inquisitors of Zionist orthodoxy put the screws to the university.

There's a web site in support of Robinson --

... where in spite of my prejudice against professors, and my puzzlement at the whole concept of "academic freedom", I signed up, and suggest you do the same. Anybody who takes a whack at Zion, even if he's a professor -- of sociology! -- deserves our support.

It's a bit unfortunate that the pro-Robinson site has fallen into a somewhat niggling proceduralist state of mind. There is much back-and-forth about whether the rules of the university dealing with "inappropriate" faculty conduct were followed.

This would be a hard question to decide, even if one were interested in deciding it, since the rules in question are a bizarre labyrinth of agents and committees that put one in mind of the Venetian republic's palmy days, or the Vatican divorce court. There's the Council of Ten, the Council of Three, the Prothonotary Sensitivus, the Commission of Relevancy, the Tribunal of Standards... it's like Masonic ceremonial.

Still, the outlines are clear enough. Robinson did something that profs do all the time. Unfortunately for him, his actions displeased Israel's defense team. As a result, he will spend a year or two of his life fighting for his livelihood, and bearing, as best he can, the glances-askance of his former friends and colleagues and neighbors who have heard that he's, well, a bit an anti-Semite. No smoke without fire. Why did he send that email, anyway? He should have known better. Must have some kinda bug up his ass about Jews.

He may keep his job -- I hope he does, just to spite the ADL -- but he will certainly have paid a price. And that's really the point, isn't it?

What pleases me about this story is the eagerness of the university to deploy its ponderous enforcement machinery at a snap of the fingers from the ADL. Oh, did I but have the NSA phone taps of all those calls to trustees, and the donation scouts, and the deans, and the department chairs -- it would be as good as the Harman tapes, or better.

May 3, 2009

Blank check

I note with delight that Mr Obama's administration has decided to drop charges of espionage brought against two Israel lobby functionaries by the Bush administration.

So far, the pattern still holds -- Democrats have historically been even more supine and servile to the Israel lobby than Republicans, and though the Republicans of late have narrowed the gap, the donks still enjoy a comfortable lead.

Anything connected with the spook works, of course, tends to get the hypothesis engine revved up pretty high, without much traction in known or knowable fact, entailing the risk of some damage to the machinery. Caution and modesty are called for. Nobody can see through a brick wall.

Gotta say, though, it seems rather striking that this move follows so soon after the revelation of Jane Harman's involvement with this Israel-lobby spy ring. Coincidences do occur, of course. But it's impossible to repress speculation entirely.

If the the case had been pursued, might other notables besides Jane have been pulled into it?

Did Jane know where a body or two was buried?

* * * * *

I seem to be saying a good many nice things lately about professors, not my usual style. It gets worse: there's a very entertaining piece at... the Huffington Post (grr) by a professor (double grr) at Yale (skull explodes), nicely deconstructing the very peculiar New York Times report on this development. The Huffpost piece is a minor masterpiece of close reading, and though every instinct in my body rebels, I gotta recommend it as an object lesson in how newspaper items should be received.

May 24, 2009


These lefty mailing lists are a mixed bag. The same list that embroiled itself recently in a purplefaced cunno-machia brought me yesterday this nice bit of news:

'1 in 4 Israelis would consider leaving country if Iran gets nukes'
By Ofri Ilani, Haaretz Correspondent

Some 23 percent of Israelis would consider leaving the country if Iran obtains a nuclear weapon, according to a poll conducted on behalf of the Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University.

One of the comrades promptly came back with the only possible response:
Here's to Iran obtaining FOUR nukes!
Well, I wish I'd said that. All that's left for me is a bit of pedantic niggling.

It's well known that Marxists are overoptimistic, and mostly no good at arithmetic -- even the Old Man labored over his long division. These things combine multiplicatively, not additively.

So scaring away three-quarters of the Israeli population would require about 5.3 Iranian nukes ((1 - 0.23)5.3 ≈ 0.25). Getting the population scared down to 10% of its present size would require almost 9 Iranian nukes -- a hair over 8.8.

Still, we're on the right track. Contributions to the Iranian nuclear program can be sent directly to me. I'll see that they get into the right hands.

June 2, 2009

Non-story about a non-event

Shown above, a little Light Unto The Nations action, somewhere on the West Bank (aka Judea and Samaria).

Ah, the gathering storm. To hear Politico tell it, the Israel lobby and its bought legislators are really concerned that Obama might get off the reservation:

Obama faces growing pressure on Israel

As President Barack Obama prepares to depart for his first trip to the Arab world, the administration’s escalating pressure on Israel to freeze all growth of its settlements on Palestinian land has begun to stir concern among Israel’s numerous allies in both parties on Capitol Hill.

[But]the rhetoric, even from Obama’s critics, remains relatively sedate compared with the open insurrection other presidents, from Carter to the elder Bush, have triggered with attempts to apply direct pressure on Israel.

The whole item is worth reading if you're interested in the process by which "news" is fabricated on a slow day.

Obama hasn't said or done anything yet that might actually cause the slightest alarm to the Ultras in Israel and its lobby here at home. There isn't any "escalating pressure". There isn't any pressure at all. Obama has repeated the standard pieties about Israeli settlements uttered by every American president since 1967, without the least attempt to look like he means it.

The "defense" being mobilized by the Lobby and its multitudinous congressional mouthpieces is -- as usual with Israel and anything connected to it -- an offense. Buried in paragraph 23 of the Politico story is this gem:

[Florida Democratic congressman Robert] Wexler, an early Obama ally and a staunch defender of his Middle East policy, said in his view, the settlement freeze should apply only to settlements outside Israel’s security fence, or wall, and should exclude territory that appears likely to ultimately remain part of Israel.
The goal, obviously, is to get Obama to back down even from the standard hypocritical legalisms about settlements and acknowledge explicitly that the apartheid wall will be the border of any Palestinian Bantustan that may ever come into being -- at least until the Israelis see fit to move the goalpost yet again. The tactic is a contrived indignation about Obie's supposed "pressure" on our dear little plucky ally, The Only Democracy In The Middle East™.

There's also some wonderful tortured casuistry in this story about the "natural increase" in settlements -- as opposed to "expansion". For some reason this makes me think of Ezra Pound's ideas about usury.

June 4, 2009

Pious hope (and no change)

Here's Obie, laying down the law to a group of benighted towelheads:

Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the centre of America's founding.
As I often ask: Where do you start with this stuff -- this emetic concoction of falsehood, sanctimony, and hypocrisy?

"Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed." Really? What were Stalingrad and Omaha Beach about? Gettysburg? Bunker Hill? The storming of the Bastille? Horatio at the bridge? Thermopylae?

Needless to say, Obie forgot to send the Israelis the same message.

The whole sick-making performance is like this -- Parson Obama, master of the drone aircraft and the cluster bomb for six days in the week, ascends the pulpit on the seventh and tells everybody -- well, almost everybody -- to renounce violence.

On Obie's one hand, the Israelis. On his other, the Palestinians. Obie weighs, Obie judges, Obie sits on the throne and apportions the deservedness and destiny of nations. So let it be written! So let it be done!

There would be a certain Cecil B DeMille grandeur in it if he could assume a Pharaonic manner, but the closest he can get is Pharisaical -- the I-mean-business furrowed brow, the moralizing scowl, the hollow sepulchral voice of a Methodist parson with a secret vice.

The qualities that his admirers admired him for -- intelligence, moral seriousness, high purpose, the whole Eagle Scout package -- curdle, it seems, once mixed with actual power, into a filthy foetid smarmy preacherly pustular effluvium worthy of Woodrow Wilson himself.

As Galilee's most illustrious son once observed:

For ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.

June 9, 2009

OUR holocaust! Ours!

From the annals of turf protection:

A plan to honor gays and other non-Jewish victims of Nazi persecution in Brooklyn's Holocaust Memorial Park was blasted Sunday by critics as political pandering....

"The Holocaust is a uniquely Jewish event," said Assemblyman Dov Hikind ....

Barry Lituchy, vice president of the park's Holocaust Memorial Committee [said] "This is an attempt to take control of the park away from the Jewish community."

"Control of the park"? It's a city park, I believe -- owned by all of us.

The picture above shows Assemblyman Hikind (on the right) visiting the fanatical settlement of Elon Moreh, on the West Bank -- one of the ultra-aggressive "forward" settlements ringing the Palestinian city of Nablus. The chap with Hikind is Benny Katzover, the settlers' cult leader. One would like to know what they're discussing -- plans for "natural growth," perhaps.

There's turf and then there's turf. There's physical turf like at Elon Moreh, taken at gunpoint.

What's more interesting and perhaps more unusual is to assert ownership of a historical event. Talk about intellectual property: The Holocaust™ -- what a franchise!

June 18, 2009

Tweety birds

Shown above, the seal of Israel's spy agency, Mossad, with its new, slightly less sinister motto (Proverbs 11:14, instead of 24:6 from the same book of cracker-barrel apophthegmata).

Needless to say, the Jerusalem spookery has been up to its elbows in the recent events in Iran.

We've all read about how those kewl up-to-date hip young people in Tehran are using Twitter to organize opposition to Ahmadinejad, right? Turns out there may be a bit more to the story:

Israeli Effort to Destabilize Iran Via Twitter #IranElection

Anyone using Twitter over the past few days knows that the topic of the Iranian election has been the most popular. Thousands of tweets and retweets alleging that the election was a fraud, calling for protests in Iran....

I became curious and decided to investigate the origins of the information. In doing so, I narrowed it down to a handful of people who have accounted for 30,000 Iran related tweets in the past few days. Each of them had some striking similarities -

  1. They each created their twitter accounts on Saturday June 13th.
  2. Each had extremely high number of Tweets since creating their profiles.
  3. “IranElection” was each of their most popular keyword
  4. With some very small exceptions, each were posting in ENGLISH.
  5. Half of them had the exact same profile photo
  6. Each had thousands of followers, with only a few friends. Most of their friends were EACH OTHER.
I narrowed the spammers down to three of the most persistent - @StopAhmadi @IranRiggedElect @Change_For_Iran

I decided to do a google search for 2 of the 3 - @StopAhmadi and @IranRiggedElect. The first page to come up was JPost (Jerusalem Post) which is a right wing newspaper pro-Israeli newspaper.

JPost actually ran a story about 3 people “who joined the social network mere hours ago have already amassed thousands of followers.” Why would a news organization post a story about 3 people who JUST JOINED TWITTER hours earlier? Is that newsworthy? JPost was the first (and only to my knowledge) major news source that mentioned these 3 spammers.

The whole thing is well worth reading; apparently the Jerusalem Post pulled the story our blogger mentions shortly after his post appeared.

That eloquent con artist Winston Churchill once observed (if memory serves) that truth is so valuable in wartime that it must be escorted with a bodyguard of lies. This may be a lemma of a more general law; another such lemma, I suspect, is that insight in times of crisis is always surrounded with a bodyguard of imbecilities, and the more important the crisis, the higher the ratio of imbecility to insight.

Here's a currently popular imbecility; this particular instance comes from one of my lefty mailing lists:

> Proof: Israeli Effort to Destabilize Iran Via Twitter #IranElection
> Monday, June 15, 2009 19:52
> Posted in category Politics
> iran1 Right-wing Israeli interests are engaged in an all out Twitter
> attack with hopes of delegitimizing the Iranian election and causing
> political instability within Iran.  
These analyses in Ha'aretz suggest the major part of the Israeli right has 
exactly the opposite interest:

ANALYSIS / Ahmadinejad win actually preferable for Israel
By Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent
June 14 2009

The narrow strategic thinking of pro-Ahmadinejad Israelis
By Aluf Benn
June 17 2009
Pretty dumb, huh? Ahmadi is supposed to be preferred by the Israeli "right" (is there anything else in Israel but the "right" these days?) -- because he's easier to demonize. So it follows that if Israel were going to intervene in Iranian politics, it would be to keep Ahmadi in place. (This gambit has, of course, the convenient side-effect of further demonizing Ahmadi in the eyes of people who aren't Israel fans -- ah, there are wheels within wheels!)

Such sophomoric wiseacre-y overlooks a couple of important facts. One of these facts is that the Israel fan club's noise machine can demonize anybody it wants to, any time. It's what they do, and they've had a lot of practice and they've gotten really good at it.

More to the point, though, is that instability and turmoil in Iran -- with the possibility of regime collapse and serious social conflict -- is infinitely more valuable to Israel than any second-order propaganda advantage. The propaganda apparatus can be counted on to do its job effectively through thick and thin, but real upheaval in Iran is definitely thick, a consummation devoutly to be wished.

Seems like this ought to be elementary, but apparently it's not. I wonder why.

Well, no, actually, that's a lie. I think I know. The weenies who adopt the theory that Ahmadi is an invaluable propanda prize are assuming that the only people who matter in the world are people like themselves -- that is, sanctimonious moralizing liberals for whom a religious backwoods hick like Ahmadi is the Antichrist. Of course Israel must be deeply concerned all the time about what such good-hearted formerly Methodist Unitarians might be thinking.

After all, what else matters? Facts on the ground? Bah, that's vulgar materialism.

December 24, 2009

Christmas bomber

Ho ho ho, peace on earth,and all that. It's Christmas Eve, and to celebrate the paciferous Yuletide, the New York Times publishes an Op-Ed by the grinning snaggletoothed academic hyena shown above, one Alan J. Kuperman, who is -- surprise! -- advocating immediate preemptive war on Iran.

I guess it's a little like the Times' version of last year's nicely-timed Gaza invasion. Fortunately the Times doesn't have any actual bombers or tanks at its disposal -- just a bottomless fund of vicious bloodthirsty bluster and armchair strategizing, the overstated tough talk of the white-collar classes.

It's always kinda fun to pull on the odd strand of that tangled yarn-ball known as the Israel Lobby. Kuperman is a former aide to Senator "Up" Chuck Schumer, and has a staff position on something called the "Nuclear Control Institute" (NCI), apparently a kind of shell organization with a mail drop and a Web site devoted to beating the war-drums against Iran. The characteristically coarse illustration below comes from the Web site:

Letting a genie out of a bottle -- get it?

Pulling a bit more at the yarn reveals that NCI was founded by Paul Leventhal, whose obit in the Washpost tells us inter alia that

He spent 10 years as an investigative and political reporter at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the New York Post and Newsday, until deciding that he wanted to "get inside of government and try to make it work."

In 1969, he came to Washington as a press secretary to Sen. Jacob K. Javits.... From 1979 to 1981, he was staff director of the Senate Nuclear Regulation Subcommittee, chaired by Sen. Gary Hart (D-Colo.).

This rattle of the Times' inky sabre follows upon last week's comically lopsided vote by the hope-n-change team in the House -- 412-12 -- to impose more sanctions on Iran. Note that this vote was not a response to anything, though the Iranians themselves had a response or two. It was, of course, a provocation.

Remember back in the run-up to the Iraq war, when the joke going the rounds was that everybody wants to go to Baghdad, but real men want to go to Tehran? Apparently the real men still do.

February 4, 2010

Fish in a barrel

This, like most of my posts, prolly comes more from left field than left wing, left out than left bank... but here goes.

I think the north hemisphere's greater left wastes too much energy pasting America's vicious clever spitefully greedy familiar, li'l Generalissimo Mini-Me Israel. The zionic rattlers are all long since so utterly exposed, what more might one say? The nasty little imp ain't gonna go away, no matter what we do.

Surely the whole business is like the perfect fast bag at the gym -- soft to the knuckles but durable and able to rattle around and back at you just as fast as you can punch it. Better even than a tar baby because one gets in as many hard licks as one wants.

April 12, 2010

Problems and non-problems

This is a problem:

But this is not:

I know, I know, it's hard to get all these towelheads straight. But you can always count on the New York Times to explain -- there are towelheads, and then there are towelheads:

Leaders Gather for Nuclear Talks as New Threat Is Seen

WASHINGTON — Three months ago, American intelligence officials examining satellite photographs of Pakistani nuclear facilities saw the first wisps of steam from the cooling towers of a new nuclear reactor.....

The Pakistanis insist that they have no choice. A nuclear deal that India signed with the United States during the Bush administration ended a long moratorium on providing India with the fuel and technology for desperately needed nuclear power plants.

Now, as critics of the arrangement point out, the agreement frees up older facilities that India can devote to making its own new generation of weapons....

Mr. Obama met with the leaders of India and Pakistan on Sunday, a day ahead of a two-day Washington gathering with 47 nations devoted to the question of how to keep nuclear materials out of the hands of terrorists.... this meeting has quite limited goals: seeking ways to better secure existing supplies of bomb-usable plutonium and highly enriched uranium. The problem that India and Pakistan represent... is deliberately not on the agenda.

“President Obama is focusing high-level attention on the threat that already exists out there, and that’s tremendously important,” said Sam Nunn... "the fact is that new production adds greatly to the problem.”

Nowhere is that truer than Pakistan, where two Taliban insurgencies and Al Qaeda coexist with the world’s fastest-growing nuclear arsenal. According to a senior American official, Mr. Obama used his private meeting Sunday afternoon with Yousaf Raza Gilani, Pakistan’s newly empowered prime minister, to “express disappointment” that Pakistan is blocking the opening of negotiations on a treaty that would halt production of new nuclear material around the world.

Experts say accelerated production in Pakistan translates into much increased risk.

“The challenges are getting greater — the increasing extremism, the increasing instability, the increasing material,” said Rolf Mowatt-Larssen of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, who as a C.I.A. officer and then head of the Energy Department’s intelligence unit ran much of the effort to understand Al Qaeda’s nuclear ambitions.

“That’s going to complicate efforts to make sure nothing leaks,” he said. “The trends mean the Pakistani authorities have a greater challenge.”

Few subjects are more delicate in Washington.

(There are one or two, though):

The Times continues:

India... is making new weapons-grade plutonium, in plants exempted under the agreement with the Bush administration from inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency. (Neither Pakistan nor India has signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.)

The Obama administration has endorsed the Bush-era agreement. Last month, the White House took the next step, approving an accord that allows India to build two new reprocessing plants. While that fuel is for civilian use, critics say it frees older plants to make weapons fuel.

“The Indian relationship is a very important one,” said Mr. Nunn, who influenced Mr. Obama’s decision to endorse a goal of ridding the world of nuclear weapons. But he said that during the Bush years, “I would have insisted that we negotiate to stop their production of weapons fuel....”

"During the Bush years", he would have "insisted". But now -- well, these are no longer the Bush years. And so presumably there will be no "insistence", impotent as it would undoubtedly be, from Mr Nunn.

You can't make this stuff up. Allow me to repeat:

“The challenges are getting greater — the increasing extremism, the increasing instability, the increasing material,” said Rolf Mowatt-Larssen of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, who [was] a C.I.A. officer and then head of the Energy Department’s intelligence unit...
Wild, isn't it? The Ivy/Langley connection is very old news, of course -- in fact, it was never news -- but here we have the Times advertising it as a credential.

April 16, 2010

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain

One Andrew Pollack, an extremely militant Fourth Internationalist, wrote, recently, on one of my lefty mailing lists:

In a front-page article in today's Times... Obama echoes recent statements by Gen. Petraeus, VP Biden and others about how Israel's intransigence is threatening "our" interests in the war against Arabs and Muslims.

This is another reason to firmly oppose alliances with right-wingers supposedly against war, who love this "America First" approach.

Comrade Andrew modestly directed our attention to an essay of his on the "socialist action" web site, which to be sure made some good points:
[After] the announcement by Israel, made during Vice President Joe Biden’s visit, that it would build 1600 new homes for Jewish settlers in Al-Quds(*)... U.S. officials feigned outrage—not because they oppose settlement construction, but because they fear the Zionists aren’t properly acting out the diplomatic charade. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the timing of the announcement was “insulting,” and top aide David Axelrod called it an “affront” that “seemed calculated” to undermine the peace talks.
Still, there was something off. Finally I hit the nub of it:
The U.S. government... needs the Israeli government as an outpost in the Middle East.
Now this is a trope you hear in Lefty discourse all the time. And maybe it was true, or at least semi-true, during the Cold War, when Sam and the Sovs each had their pieces on the board in that unfortunate region. But now it seems plainly false.

Oh, to be sure, Washington would not look with favor on a Palestine in charge of, say, Hamas, which would be a lot like a replay of the Iranian revolution. But there's quite a gap between that and a client state that doesn't know its place; a client state with its own nutty hubristic regional-superpower fantasies; a client state that routinely insults and domineers over the captain and bridge crew of the global hegemon. I mean, really, who needs that?

Comrade Andrew's well-informed but ultimately disappointing treatment of the subject reveals a certain widely-shared schematism in our understanding of empire and, for that matter, of class society. Or so I think. We too often imagine our rulers as a highly organized and self-aware monolith, when in fact they're a loose collection of rival gangs. They share an interest in milking, bilking, and suppressing us, of course, but except for the rather rare periods when that happy state of affairs seems to be in question, they don't all pull in the same direction, always or even most of the time.

Now if that's the case -- what in earth would be wrong in playing one against another, assuming our poor etiolated Left were in any position to do that? Comrade Andrew decries "alliances with right-wingers supposedly against war, who love this 'America First' approach". But if "we" -- the Left, I mean -- were actually able to help stir up or exacerbate any tension between one imperial faction and another, then where's the downside?

I can only think that Comrade Andrew's reason for not wanting to shore up any "right-wingers", of any stripe, is that like many Lefties, he sees the Left's task as primarily one of evangelism and conversion. We Lefties have a certain view of the world, and if only we could persuade enough people to see it our way -- why, then, The Masses would rise up and overthrow The Bosses. Any kind of "alliance" with any "right-wingers" would imply leaving the scales on at least some "right-wing" eyes, and defer the day of general enlightenment.

This view of social transformation and how it works seems awfully idealistic to me. But perhaps I'm just a shameless opportunist. If people want to get mad at the Zionists for threatening "American" interests, that seems not just delightful but even, in some non-trivial sense, perceptive.

Hell, I'm an American, Lefty though I be -- and what am I, chopped liver? The bastards sure aren't doing me any good, or anybody else except themselves, for that matter.

You could turn my argument against me, of course. You could say that if in fact actually-existing and actually-overreaching Zionism is more of a liability to the Empire than an asset, then taking the Zionists down a peg or two would make the Empire more rational, qua empire, and thus better-run and more formidable. So as an anti-imperialist, I ought to be cheering the Zionists on.

The more I think about this argument, the better I like it, and may start to use it myself. Support Israel! Destroy America! Hey, there's a slogan for you!


(*) In demotic non-militant English, "Jerusalem".

May 9, 2010

Not dead yet?!?!

The world's most ponderous and tiresome literary critic -- a field where there's plenty of competition, for tiresomeness and ponderosity -- has just plumbed new abysses of incoherence and bathos in what else, the NY Times Book Review:

The Jewish Question: British Anti-Semitism

A History of Anti-Semitism in England

Anthony Julius has written a strong, somber book on an appalling subject: the long squalor of Jew-hatred in a supposedly enlightened, humane, liberal society. My first, personal, reflection is to give thanks that my own father, who migrated from Odessa, Russia, to London, had the sense, after sojourning there, to continue on to New York City.

If the Brits had any capacity for gratitude at all, they would no doubt be equally thankful.
With a training both literary and legal, Julius is well prepared for the immensity of his task. He is a truth-teller, and authentic enough to stand against the English literary and academic establishment, which essentially opposes the right of the state of Israel to exist, while indulging in the humbuggery that its anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism.
Speaking of humbug -- at this stage of the game, it's amazing that even the Times would print this sad, muddled, banal series of unconnected eructations. Bloom is still quite angry about events that happened in 1290, and deeply disappointed in Bill Shakespeare for writing that nasty play The Merchant of Venice. Oh and Dickens, another monster, not to mention
Thomas Nashe, Daniel Defoe, Rudyard Kipling, H. G. Wells, G. K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, Wyndham Lewis, down to the contemporary poet Tom Paulin and the dramatist Caryl Churchill.

One can only suppose that Bloom gets away with this kind of sophomoric, ahistorical foolishness because he has Yale to certify his authority -- as Alan Dershowitz has Harvard, and David Mamet has Broadway. When you've got credentials, as far as the Times is concerned, you can be as crazy as a bedbug but you must be heard.

May 31, 2010

A faraway people, of whom we know way too much

Okay, I admit it. In fact, I proclaim it from the housetops: I hate Israel. I hate it worse than Kosovo or Croatia or any other nasty little actually-existing racial-chauvinist country I can think of -- though in my defense I will say I hated apartheid South Africa as much, while it was around. But now that the Boers aren't running the show there any more, Israel has had to take up the slack; and it has done so, admirably, more than adequately, and con amore.

I encourage others to join me here. Free your minds of cant, abandon false piety and useless prudence, and repeat after me: I hate Israel.

Say it quietly at first, if necessary. You'll grow to like the sound of it, and you'll start saying it louder. A person near and dear to me asked me, just now, what I would like to see done about Israel, and I found myself quoting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: I would like to see it wiped off the map.

It was, of course, unsurprising that after this weekend's spectacularly criminal attack on the Gaza aid ships, the defense team would swing into action -- though to be sure, they had their work cut out.

The embarrassingly silly claims of the propaganda ministry in the Promised Land itself were soft-pedalled in the world I live in. The favored approach in my world came from The Department Of Comparative Atrocity, like this contribution to one of my mailing lists:

List of genocides and democides (1970 to 2010)

  • Cambodia 3 700 000 dead (estimate)
  • Bangladesh 2 800 000 dead (estiamte)
  • Sudan 2 600 000 dead (estimate)
  • Congo 2 100 000 dead (estimate)
  • Afghanistan 1 800 000 dead (estimate)
  • Rwanda 800 000 dead (estimate)
  • China (1970 - 1974) 750 000 dead (estimate)
  • Vietnam 500 000 dead (estimate)
  • Uganda 450 000 dead (estimate)
  • Indonesia 300 000 dead (estimate)
  • Guatemala 250 000 dead (estimate)
  • Bosnia 200 000 dead (estimate)
  • Iraq 180 000 dead (estimate)
  • Palestinians killed by Israel since 1980 : 7 000 dead (estimate)
Can we condemn Israel, boycott Israel, firmly, without it becoming a form of monomania ?
There you have it, folks. They're not so bad, see? Develop a sense of proportion, for Heaven's sake.

One has, of course, seen this argument before. In keeping with the usual habit 'round here of questioning unstated presuppositions, one might start by asking, just what's so wrong with monomania?

I can't claim to be quite so focussed as to deserve that honorable term myself, but I'm quite willing to acknowledge that Israeli atrocities bother me more than atrocities elsewhere. This is because my own country's government supports these atrocities, up to the hilt, and because I live in a social world where every day you meet people who will go purple in the face making a case for them if the subject comes up.

For a lot of us, Zionism is an in-your-face, immediate, on-the-table problem in a way that similarly vile phenomena elsewhere in the world are not. The guy standing next to me at the lox counter in my local deli is unlikely to defend Hutus killing Tutsis, or vice versa, but the odds are better than even that he'll find a good word to say for the Gaza "incursion", or this weekend's quantitatively insignificant police action.

June 5, 2010

Light unto the Nations strikes again -- or not

It appears that the crew of the Rachel Corrie didn't suffer the same level of Israeli barbarism that the folks on the Mavi Marmara did.

I'm glad for the Corries. It took, you should pardon the expression, balls, to sail that boat toward Gaza after what happened last weekend. Those people deserve a lot of respect.

Why wasn't it a replay? Speculation is rife, as they say. Perhaps Irish people are official white people, whereas Turks are mere Levantines -- the very kind of people Israel was created to crush under its hobnailed heel?

Perhaps. But I wonder whether the answer is even more interesting than that.

Perhaps Israel now finds itself in the awkward position of being a state that can't massacre, and can't not massacre.

Massacre has always been an important tool in the Zionist kit -- an indispensable one, in fact. The Zionist message has always been that resistance is not only futile but suicidal. (Maybe this is why suicide has become an important element of the resistance.) "We can kill you, and get away with it" -- those really ought to be the lyrics of Israel's national anthem.

The body-armored goons dropping from their choppers onto the Mavi's deck, shooting people in the head, and then bewailing their own victimhood -- no doubt they expected that to work. It has in the past, from Deir Yassein through Sabra and Shatila. If it were to stop working -- where would they be?

For whatever reason -- because the Turks are honorary Europeans now, or because we've collectively gotten wise to the Israel scam -- it seems to have stopped working, for a suddenly significant number of people. So did they have to pull back and act like a halfway civilized society in dealing with the Rachel?

If that's what's happened, it's heading into the endgame for the awful little apartheid state on the Med. Once they have to pretend to be civilized, it's all over but the screaming. Pretense seeps in, through skin and sinew into the bone -- and before you know it, you are civilized.

June 6, 2010

Sane person tries to take crazy person seriously

Mondoweiss writes, with deep alarm and puzzlement:

Israeli Strangelove now at Harvard calmly lays out ‘Armageddon scenario’

To understand the news involving Israeli nuclear-armed subs off Iran, I recommend an important post by Jerome Slater on his blog about a crazy/chilling paper from a former high Israeli security adviser now at Harvard, named Chuck Freilich.

Read the whole original post--which includes a link to Freilich's paper--then ask yourself what in heaven's name this guy is doing at Harvard?

One has to be touched by that last plaintive question, doesn't one? Two words: Summers. Kissinger.

Freilich's line is that Israel needs to nuke anybody who might even ever think about getting nuclear weapons of their own. This is pretty logical, actually.

We've known for a long time that it's useless for country A to have nuclear weapons if its antagonist country B also has them. A's nukes are only useful to it if B has no nukes. A's nukes become un-usable once B has its own, and nobody takes seriously any nuclear threat from A -- no matter how much A bays at the moon and chews the carpet and drinks its own bathwater and otherwise acts the madman.

The corollary is surely crystal-clear: if you're worried about Israel doing crazy stuff with its nuclear arsenal, and yes, mondoweiss, you should be -- then you should also be rooting for Iran to get nuclear weapons too, and the sooner the better.

That would recall those Israeli loons to a sense of reality in short order. Harvard or no Harvard.

Seems to me this is the pons asinorum for people who claim to be bothered by Israel: Well, are you willing to support Iran? No? Well then, take two aspirin and don't call me in the morning.

June 7, 2010

Helen Thomas: A woman after my own heart

Seems to be Israel Week, doesn't it?

The Israelis and their "Amen corner", as Pat Buchanan once called it, have seized with visible glee and relief on Helen Thomas' somewhat broad-brush suggestions about the Israel-Palestine perplex. Notoriously, the best defense is a good offense, and if you don't have a good offense, any old offense is better than none.

My son A. and I happened to be riding in a car -- well, actually we were sitting in a car, stuck on Route 4 in Teaneck, New Jersey, going absolutely nowhere -- when we heard the report, probably the last people in North America to do so. Good old Helen's sharp vinegary voice rang out nicely: "Get the hell out of Palestine!" A. and I looked at each other and simultaneously said, Well, yeah, they should!

Of course when you sit down and think calmly about it, once the initial excitement has passed, this idea, appealing as it may be in the abstract, doesn't seem really practical. Nobody, but nobody, is going to welcome a bunch of Israelis anywhere, and who can blame them? Doubtless even Helen wouldn't seriously propose it, if she were on a commission charged with settling the Palestine Problem, and granted the power to make it happen -- and how I wish there were such a commission, and she were on it.

No, Helen was just popping off, as we all do from time to time. She was expressing exasperation; and anybody who doesn't feel highly exasperated with Israel just now isn't quite sane.

Moreover, she holds no post under Government. Even if she had meant to offer serious policy advice, her policy views would be of no more consequence than yours or mine. Sending all the Israelis back to their lands of origin may be a silly idea -- though it's no sillier than sending their grandparents to Palestine in the first place -- but even if she seriously advocates it, so what? People have lots of silly ideas. Even newspaper columnists. Especially newspaper columnists. Two words: Abe. Rosenthal.

It's awfully comical to see the towering moral indignation with which Helen's popoff -- considered or not, silly or not -- has been greeted. Obie's mouthpiece, Robert Gibbs, a man who tells his employer's lies for a living, said that Helen's remarks were "offensive and reprehensible".

Now the moral instincts of a paid shill for a corporate front-man and mass murderer need not detain us. But it gets better:

Lanny Davis, who was also special counsel for Bill Clinton, said: “Helen Thomas, who I used to consider a close friend and who I used to respect, has showed herself to be an anti-Semitic bigot.”

Ari Fleischer, who served George Bush, said in an e-mail to the Huffington Post website that Thomas’s comments amounted to “religious cleansing”.

You've gotta hand it to these guys. They never met a shark they didn't jump.

June 22, 2010

Captain Boycott, and his Israeli friends

Shown above is Captain Charles Boycott, apparently wearing a jacket derived from his Norfolk homeland. The Captain gave his name to a fine old custom, in the course of his work as land agent for Lord Erne, an absentee landlord in the County Mayo, and a right grasping old bugger too, by all accounts.

The Captain has his contemporary friends -- among them Bernard Avishai, Israeli professor, financial finagler, and editor of the Harvard Business Review, whose pissy sour puss is shown at left. Bernie writes in the Nation -- yes, the Nation! -- as follows:

Against Boycott and Divestment

[T]he Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.... will be coming soon to a campus near you.

...professors, students, union activists, etc. torturing logic to depict Israel's faults—which are serious enough to be unique—as "apartheid," while rehearsing the principles of action that arguably worked against South Africa a generation ago.

I say "arguably" because some of apartheid's most courageous critics, who helped to bring about an end to white rule, were opposed to B and D, even when they cautiously favored S.... Tony Bloom, CEO of the South African food processing giant Premier Group... rejected apartheid's foundations... [and was generally wonderful; some eulogy snipped --ed.] Though he eventually moved to London, he continued to transform his conglomerate into a model postapartheid firm.

What Bloom told me in 1987 was that, yes, foreign government sanctions on South African trade made sense in certain cases. But the boycott of South African universities and business people, and especially divestment campaigns against international companies doing business in the country, were seriously counterproductive. Why? Because those actions generally undermined the very people who advanced cosmopolitan values in the country. To get social change, you need social champions, in management as in universities.

This is rich, isn't it? Enlightened corporate honchos like Bloom, and beautiful professorial souls like Avishai -- relatively beautiful, anyway, compared to, say, Bugsy Siegel -- are the folks we have to rely on to vanquish Israeli apartheid.

(Lemma: The Palestinians themselves have no agency in the matter, and need to shut the fuck up and behave themselves while the Blooms and Avishais work their magic.)

This is an awfully familiar argument. It seems to be especially compelling among academics, who know in their bones that they are the unacknowledged legislators of the world, and feel a tender guild solicitude for their brothers of the mortarboard in Fort Zion. For example, a correspondent of mine at a well-known university writes:

[WKU] has a Holocaust Studies Center, founded by the late [famous name], the dean of Holocaust Studies. So an academic boycott would be a particularly hard sell. The current chair of Holocaust Studies has already written complaining how such a boycott would interfere with the work of his center given that many of the scholars are in Israel.
It would certainly be an awful tragedy if some "studies center" were interfered with, and particularly a Holocaust studies center, considering how poorly studied the Holocaust has been.

But of course this is all complete nonsense; boycott or no boycott, people will continue to study history, and use or misuse it to the top of their bent. There is really no fear that the "work" of the Holocaust Studies Center, for what it's worth, will grind to a halt if Israeli academics get the Quaker shunning treatment, or that people will stop scratching their heads about string theory or what have you.

Even if it were interfered with -- thought experiment here -- really, what's the downside? Some splendid monograph appears a few years later than it otherwise might. An Israeli mathematician who might have been first past the post with a proof of Scheisskopf's Conjecture has to content himself with place position. Bernard Avishai has to stay in one spot, instead of dividing his time, academic jet-setter that he is, between the Promised Land and the bosky dells of New Hampshire.

(I have no great love for New Hampshire -- more of a Vermont- and Maine-type guy, myself -- but even so, for New Hampshire's sake, I hope Bernard is enough of a Zionist patriot to choose the Mousehole on the Med, to borrow a phrase from my old pal Lenni Brenner.)

It is gratifying to note that there are people in the world who are more intelligent and more principled than college professors, or The Nation magazine (what were they thinking of, to publish this bolus of reactionary Chamber Of Commerce bromides?).

For a quasi-nautical and quasi-musical guy like me it's particularly nice to see that the honest intelligent stand-up folk include longshoremen and rock musicians:


Sweden to launch weeklong boycott on Israeli ships

Swedish dockworkers are set to launch a weeklong boycott of Israeli ships and goods to protest Monday's raid on a Gaza-destined aid flotilla, a union spokesman said.


Britain's largest union, Unite, has unanimously passed a motion to boycott Israeli companies at its first policy conference in Manchester on Wednesday.


June 4, 2010 -- At its central executive committee (CEC) meeting Friday, SAMWU unanimously endorsed a motion to immediately work towards every municipality in South Africa to become an Apartheid Israel free zone.

As part of the global Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions Campaign (BDS) SAMWU has agreed to engage every single municipality to ensure that there are no commercial, academic, cultural, sporting or other linkages whatsoever with the Israeli regime. Every SAMWU branch will immediately approach municipal and water authorities to become part of the BDS campaign, and to publicly declare their solidarity with the Palestinian people.


The Associated Press reports ( that several bands have canceled scheduled concerts in Israel in the wake of international outcry against the country.

Pixies (, Gorillaz (, and Klaxons ( were among the bands scheduled to play Tel Aviv's Pic.Nic festival ( this week, but all three groups have pulled out. According to festival organizers, the cancellations are related to the naval raid, AP reports.

Elvis Costello ( was also scheduled to play a pair of Israeli shows this summer, but he also pulled out, though he did so before the flotilla raid. On his website, Costello wrote an entry explaining his decision (

"There are occasions when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act that resonates more than anything that might be sung and it may be assumed that one has no mind for the suffering of the innocent... It is a matter of instinct and conscience."


Responding to calls by the Palestinian Workers Union and other calls by different workers unions and organizations around the world, the Norwegian Ports Union decided to join its Swedish counterpart in boycotting all Israeli ships starting on June 15.


*Activists prevent Israeli ship from unloading at US port *

For the first time in US history, a peaceful protest was able to stop workers from unloading an Israeli cargo ship on Sunday, 20 June, in the San Francisco Bay area. From 5:30am until 7pm, social justice activists and labor union organizers blocked and picketed several entrances at the Port of Oakland, preventing two shifts of longshoremen with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) to come to work and unload the Israeli Zim Lines cargo ship.

July 12, 2010

A hot town in the old time

This just in:

A tiny clay fragment - dating from the 14th century B.C.E. - that was found in excavations outside Jerusalem's Old City walls contains the oldest written document ever found in Jerusalem, say researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The find, believed to be part of a tablet from a royal archives, further testifies to the importance of Jerusalem as a major city in the Late Bronze Age...

.... Details of the discovery appear in the current issue of the Israel Exploration Journal.

Excavations in the Ophel have been conducted by Dr. Eilat Mazar of the Hebrew University Institute of Archaeology. Funding for the project has been provided by Daniel Mintz and Meredith Berkman of New York, who also have provided funds for completion of the excavations and opening of the site to the public by the Israel Antiquities Authority, in cooperation with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the Company for the Development of East Jerusalem. The sifting work was led by Dr.Gabriel Barkay and Zachi Zweig at the Emek Zurim wet-sieving facility site.

... the script is of a very high level, testifying to the fact that it was written by a highly skilled scribe that in all likelihood prepared tablets for the royal household of the time, said Prof. Wayne Horowitz , a scholar of Assyriology at the Hebrew University Institute of Archaeology.

Rrrright. Somebody should write a book -- if it hasn't already been written -- about the politics of archaeology in the Promised Land. A good deal of money seems to be spent there on grubbing up potsherds and ossuaries and sad old bones, all of which goes to show, supposedly, that the thieving conquerors really belong.

I especially love the bit about the "high-level" script. No clumsy cuneiform in Jerusalem, already a hip and happening town fourteen centuries before the Unfortunate Misunderstanding.

July 27, 2010

Le juste milieu

On one of my lefty mailing lists I just received an appeal to sign a petition to ban Israel from the next dreary Olympic Games.

Of course I signed it, since I like the idea of banning Israel from anything it could possibly be banned from.

Still, a little humorous imp wouldn't stop giggling somewhere in the back of my brain. Surely, the imp whispered, if there's anywhere that Israel belongs, it's the Olympics? The world's most nearly Fascist country, these days -- surely it ought to take pride of place in one of the world's most Fascist spectacles?

The ideal outcome, of course, would be that everybody else boycotts the London Olympics and only Israel and the Brits show up. Israel would kick the Brits all around the stadium and the Brits would tearfully express their deep gratitude for the opportunity to be of service.

July 31, 2010

Christians and Jews: The friendly competition...

... Who's the bigger bigot?

Thus the New York Times:

Debate Heats Up About Mosque Near Ground Zero

An influential Jewish organization on Friday announced its opposition to a proposed Islamic center and mosque two blocks north of ground zero in Lower Manhattan, intensifying a fierce national debate about the limits of religious freedom and the meaning of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The decision by the group, the Anti-Defamation League [ADL], touched off angry reactions from a range of religious groups, which argued that the country would show its tolerance and values by welcoming the center near the site where radical Muslims killed about 2,750 people.

Connoisseurs of moral degeneracy will find much to enjoy here. For one thing, two institutions which one would have thought could not possibly sink any lower, the ADL and the New York Times, have both plunged deeper into the sewer than even their worst enemies -- among whom I am proud to number myself -- would have believed possible. In fact, it's hard to say which of them has, relatively speaking, disgraced itself more.

The ADL, which has always been a byword for impudent arrogance, may not have had quite as far to sink, but has arguably plunged deeper, by injecting the Jewish people into a matter where no slightest shadow of the Jewish Question falls -- assuming, arguendo, that there still is a Jewish Question, and thus a colorable pretext for the ADL's existence in the first place.

But the Times! What's the Times' excuse?

The ADL exists to perpetrate breathtaking enormities. Nobody would pay them the slightest attention if they weren't always finding new sharks to jump. In this sense, they are only running true to form, though breaking a few personal-worst records on this particular topic.

But this Times story reads like it escaped somehow from the New York Post's newsroom, or the London Times', and climbed surreptitiously onto the NYTimes' front page when nobody was looking. The usual solemn Times charade of "balance", the Pilatian other-handwashing, is simply abandoned, thrown barefacedly to the winds. "Ground zero!" "Militant Muslims!" "The limits of religious freedom"!

The first three quotes in the story are given to Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, and a little vontz named C. Lee Hanson, who seems to be making a small-time career out of having lost a son in the WTC attack -- one of the innumerable shrill droning swarm of American professional victims.

Interestingly, the ADL and the Times seem in this case to be taking a non-New Yorkish attitude, siding with people elsewhere who think that they have some standing to tell those of us who live here what we can and can't build in our own town. The Times story acknowledges that New Yorkers mostly shrug the whole thing off; it's Yahoos in East Bumfuck who regard the Bathtub and its environs as holy ground.

Here's Foxman the Unspeakable, capo of the ADL, who

... said in an interview on Friday that the organization came to the conclusion that the location was offensive to families of victims of Sept. 11, and he suggested that the center’s backers should look for a site “a mile away.”

“It’s the wrong place,” Mr. Foxman said. “Find another place.”

Asked why the opposition of the families was so pivotal in the decision, Mr. Foxman, a Holocaust survivor, said they were entitled to their emotions.

“Survivors of the Holocaust are entitled to feelings that are irrational,” he said. Referring to the loved ones of Sept. 11 victims, he said, “Their anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted.”

Breathtaking, eh? Some bigots are more equal than others; and Abe Foxman has taken over the functions of the zoning board. "Find another place."

I'm not a big fan of our current mayor, Mike Bloomberg, whose voice is even more annoying than Obama's. But there are times whyen one is tempted to think that a Napoleonic little dwarfish technocrat may still be preferable to a nightstick fetishist like Giuliani, or a smug lower-middle-class ethnic-chauvinist mugged-liberal like Ed Koch, both of whom would surely have been right down with this Clash of Cultures perspective. Bloomberg, to his credit, observed:

“What is great about America, and particularly New York, is we welcome everybody, and if we are so afraid of something like this, what does that say about us?” Mr. Bloomberg asked recently.

“Democracy is stronger than this,” he added. “And for us to just say no is just, I think — not appropriate is a nice way to phrase it.”

The Times immediately counters:

Still, the arguments against the Muslim center appear to be resonating. Polling shows that a majority of Americans oppose building it near ground zero.
"A majority of Americans." Do they live here? No? Then fuck 'em.

October 31, 2010

In Queens, yet?

One of the aleatory pleasures of urban life is undeliverable mail -- things misaddressed, or addressed to somebody who moved away ten years ago. In my building, such material is left on a handy little shelf under the mailboxes in the lobby.

Thanks to this amiable New York folkway, I recently came into possession of a surprisingly thick -- 52 pages! -- and unsurprisingly tedious newspaper called The Jewish Week. It's a bit like reading a model railroaders' gazette. It might not be your thing, but you can sorta see how folks might get into it, and why not?

The difference is that model railroading is apolitical, and The Jewish Week is anything but. The issue I picked up from the dead-letter shelf featured, on its first page, a cri de coeur from Queens (yes, of course there's a Web version) :

Battered By Boycotts

Back in May, when my 7-year-old daughter suggested we host an Israel-themed birthday party, my immediate reaction was, “Fabulous!”

We were walking home from ballet class, where she’d received an invitation to a friend’s Greek Gods and Goddesses party, and she was eager to top that with her own theme. Since I’d been teaching her a little Hebrew and taking her on occasional shopping trips to Kew Gardens Hills’ “Little Jerusalem,” Israel seemed like a natural and easy choice. Having lived in Israel for a year and a half and having recently refreshed my Hebrew in an ulpan, I actually know quite a bit about the state. And Ellie, who is usually the only Jewish kid in her class at public school, feels an affinity for this mythical faraway land (she’s not yet visited) in which Jews are the majority.

My second reaction, sparked no doubt by our passing a Palestinian-American neighbor (with whom I carefully avoid discussing politics) and her children on the sidewalk, was: uh oh.

And sure enough, despite our upbeat invitation promising to teach both the Arabic and Hebrew words for “peace,” despite my carefully worded note to parents explaining that the party would not be political or a propaganda stunt (all crafted amid great feelings of ambivalence in which I indignantly wondered if it was really necessary to apologize for having an Israel party), our August event was boycotted.

There's a great deal to enjoy in this text -- the 7-year-old in ballet class, the need to "top" the classmates, all very Long Island -- but I especially like the "uh-oh" sinking feeling about the Palestinian neighbor. Is this a great country, or what?

I love boycotts. One of the nice things about boycotts is that they're something bien-pensant liberal-schmiberals can actually do -- just buy a different brand, or shop in a different store. Or decline a party invitation from your neighbor, who is probably a bit of a bore anyway.

But really, I had no idea. If this Zionist fanatic -- an Israel-themed birthday party, for Adonai's sake! -- is starting to feel some coldness in the air in Kew Gardens, Queens, Long Island, New York, then we're a bit further along than I realized.

November 15, 2010

What Bibi wants, Bibi gets

The New York Times reports, with every appearance of a straight face:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel [pledged] to push for a new, one-time-only freeze of 90 days on settlement construction in the West Bank... [T]he Obama administration... promised not to seek any further construction freezes as a precondition for securing this one....

Under the proposed freeze, negotiated by Mr. Netanyahu and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton during nearly eight hours of talks in New York last Thursday, the Israelis would stop most construction on settlements in the West Bank for 90 days...

In return, the Israelis would receive 20 advanced American fighter jets and other unspecified military aid, as well as American promises to oppose any Palestinian attempt to obtain international recognition of statehood in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza without Israeli agreement.

The United States would veto a United Nations Security Council resolution along those lines and actively work against similar resolutions in forums where it does not have a veto.

That must have been quite some eight hours of "negotiation." One wonders why it took so long, in fact. It's a little like Charlie McCarthy "negotiating" with Edgar Bergen. You can decide for yourself which party is Charlie, and which Edgar.

In any case, the Israelis gave up nothing, and got a lot. What "negotiators"!

January 25, 2011

Credible partners

I'm having a lot of fun reading the Palestine Papers -- needless to say. Wonderful stuff. Those Quislings in the Palestinian Authority have done everything but bend over and spread 'em. No right of return for Palestinians. East Jerusalem on a platter.

But even Ehud "Lesser Evil" Olmert still wanted more, more, more; and you can imagine what the brutish goon Netanyahu (accent on the "yahoo") and goodfellas like Avigdor Lieberman are after. In fact, you don't have to imagine; Lieberman wants half the West Bank.

It all makes crystal-clear, to the meanest intellect, what should have been crystal-clear to that same intellect quite some time ago; namely; that the Israelis -- with complete bipartisan accord -- aren't interested in any settlement that gives the Palestinians anything, except perhaps the status of barely-tolerated helots, hewing wood and drawing water for their lords and masters.

January 26, 2011

Fav'rite of the honkeys, buried with a donkey?

Is the contagion spreading?

Thousands of Egyptian protesters inspired by the revolt in Tunisia clashed with police in the largest anti-government demonstrations in years, flying banners and decrying political repression, corruption and unemployment under the three-decade rule of President Hosni Mubarak.
For decades now Mubarak has been referred to derisively by just about everybody in the Middle East as "la vache qui rit" because of his remarkable resemblance to a well-known trademark:

January 28, 2011

Outside agitators

The New York Times is predictably dyspeptic about my friends and role models at Al-Jazeera.

Seizing a Moment, Al Jazeera Galvanizes Arab Frustration

... The channel has helped to shape a narrative of popular rage against oppressive American-backed Arab governments (and against Israel) ever since its founding 15 years ago.

This piece is disgraceful, even by the Times' admittedly low standards. Read the whole thing; it's a lab study in information-free propaganda disguised as reportage.

Bill Keller and I used to wait at the same bus stop to take our kids to the same school. We struck up a typical urban acquaintanceship -- swapped stories, exchanged jokes, never got into anything very personal. He never mentioned the Sulzbergers, I never mentioned Karl Marx.

Keller didn't seem like a bad guy at all, and compared with some of his mad-dog predecessors, like Mike Rosenthal, he seemed, in fact, like a pretty decent human being.

An item like this shows how little the personal equation matters. It's the institution that counts. My decent and no doubt well-meaning old busmate Bill rides, or at least bestrides, a tiger that has its own purposes. The scrupulous Times, when the times call for it, can and must descend to citing "many" unnamed "critics" and "Arabs." And then of course there's the irrefutable impersonal passive -- "widely considered" and the like.

Bill, Bill. Bail out, old buddy. Administering this shit is not good for your soul.

January 30, 2011

Worth a thousand words

From the indispensable Angry Arab:

The first two are the new "vice-president" of Egypt, har de har; the last is the recently parachuted-in El-Baradei.

Pictures are so revealing, aren't they? These all tell the same story. Just look at the body language; the poor suppliant Arab drawing the Godfather's plenipotent fist close to his groin; the Ubermensch keeping his distance, distaste and contempt for the grovelling gowk before him etched in every crease of his jowly criminal face.

April 18, 2011

Neither a Boer nor a Lerner be

The clammy, creepy Rabbi Michael Lerner (mentioned here before) has pulled another one of his avowal/disavowal stunts. He reproduced, on his Web site, a rather nice piece by Uri Avneri about the recent recantation of Judge Goldstone. Here's Avneri:

MY HEART bleeds for Judge Goldstone. From the beginning he was placed in an impossible situation.

The UN commission which appointed him to head the inquiry into the allegations of war crimes committed during the operation was acting on a seemingly logical but actually foolish calculation. Appointing to the job a good Jew, and an avowed Zionist to boot, would disarm, it was thought, any allegation of anti-Israeli bias.

Goldstone and his colleagues undoubtedly did an honest and conscientious job. They sifted the evidence laid before them and arrived at reasonable conclusions on that basis. However, almost all the evidence came from Palestinian and UN sources. The commission could not interrogate the officers and soldiers of the Israeli forces because our government, in a typical and almost routine act of folly, refused to cooperate.

... After the publication of his commission’s report, his life became hell.

The full fury of the Jewish ghetto against traitors from its midst was turned on him. Jews objected to his attending his grandson’s Bar Mitzvah. His friends turned away from him, He was ostracized by all the people he valued.

So he searched his soul and found that he had been wrong all along....

Altogether, Goldstone has now paved the way for another Cast Lead operation which will be far worse.

I expect , however, that he can now pray in any synagogue he chooses.

So far so good. But the reverend Mr Lerner characteristically wants to have it both ways. He prepends a long and slithery preface to Avneri's piece:
There is much wisdom in Uri Avnery’s analysis of the Goldstone controversy, but I cannot accept the ironic dissing of Goldstone himself. We did not give [Goldstone] the Tikkun award because we agreed with his report — we knew and said publicly long ago that the claim that Israel intentionally sought to kill civilians was at this point unsubstantiated and weakened the report, and I’m glad he repudiated that part. But we gave Goldstone the award for his integrity and willingness to challenge his own people’s blind allegiance to the government of Israel, and I continue to believe in his integrity even if I believe that the op-ed he published in the Washington Post was confused and ambiguous in many respects.
Honestly, give me a straightforward thug like Netanyahu or Avigdor Lieberman any time, over a writhing eel like Lerner.

May 5, 2011

Zionist vs. Zionist

Life in New York is really a glorious cycle of song, a medley of extemporanea. Where else can a tedious Zionist playwright get denied an honorary degree from a fifth-rate cop college because he's not Zionist enough?

School blocks Kushner honor over Israel

For the second time in just six months, the City University of New York has become embroiled in scandal over the politics of the Israel-Palestine conflict. This week, the CUNY board of trustees blocked an attempt by one of its member colleges to award an honorary degree to the celebrated playwright Tony Kushner, who is also a prominent Jewish critic of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians.

A request by John Jay College to award Kushner an honorary degree was tabled on Monday night after one CUNY board member criticized -- and, Kushner argues, distorted -- the playwright's past statements on Israel.

John Jay College! The John Jay College Of Criminal Knowledge, as an old activist pal of mine used to call it -- a place where aspiring police apparatchiks go to get their tickets punched and ascend a rung or two on the bureaucratic ladder above their less energetic coevals.

Why on earth did this dubious institution want to give an honorary degree to one of the more prominent advocates of Gay Nationalism? Only in New York -- it's like an Italian being Grand Marshal of the St Patrick's parade. We're great at that sort of thing. Implausible alliances are our life's blood -- you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.

But of course it gets better. Too Much Is Not Enough -- that really ought to be the town's motto.

The driving force behind the decision to table the honorary degree for Kushner is CUNY board member Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, a principal at the firm Bernstein Global Wealth Management. He is also a former aide to Sen. Al D'Amato, R-N.Y., a trustee at the pro-Israel think tank the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and an organizer of the Salute to Israel Day Parade Committee.

"There is a lot of disingenuous and non-intellectual activity directed against the state of Israel on campuses throughout the country, the West generally, and oftentimes the United States as well," Wiesenfeld [said]."

Of course this is deeply unfair to Kushner, though one hates to say it. One wants to think well of everybody; but candor obliges us to acknowledge that Kushner has not deserved this compliment:
[Kushner] has also repeatedly said that he is a strong supporter of Israel’s right to exist, that he has never supported a boycott of the country, and that his views are shared by many Jews and supporters of Israel.

“I have been honored many times by prominent Jewish organizations, proudly identified as a Jew and maintained a passionate support for the continuous existence of the State of Israel,” he said in an interview on Thursday. “An apology should come from the Board of Trustees for not following the dictates of simple fairness and decency when this happened, and allowing someone who deserved better treatment to be treated shabbily.”

Kushner goes on to cite Benny Morris, who famously discovered -- somewhat belatedly -- that Palestinians had been expropriated in order to create the Light Of The Nations, and ultimately concluded that well, you can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs. And what a delicious divine omelette it is!

Kushner, of course, is not quite as complacent about the great crime as Morris. Which is all to his credit, as far as it goes. But it doesn't go very far.

I've seen a couple dozen appeals on my lefty lists today: Let's rally to Kushner's support! Hey, this guy won a Tony! Who do these pathetic time-serving political has-beens on the CUNY board think they are, compared to a Tony jury?

It's a thoroughly accurate characterization of the CUNY board -- though it probably applies with equal force to the Tony jury. And if Kushner were Norman Finkelstein, or Joel Kovel, I'd sign the petition.

But he's not. His defense against Wiesenfeld is that he's actually not anti-Israel as charged; that his views have been "distorted". If so, they've been distorted into something approximating a reasonable outlook.

Then too, one always likes to see the cant of the Credentialling Sector exposed. These institutions like to bill themselves as havens of fearless free inquiry, etc., but as anybody who works in one knows, they are much more often merely part of the apparatus of indoctrination, and factories for the reproduction of received opinion.

Update: subsequent developments.

May 6, 2011

More Zionist comedy at New York's own university

That's Benno Schmidt, center, above. Schmidt used to be president of Yale and has more recently descended to the 'umble post of chairman of the Board of Trustees of the City University of New York (CUNY) -- the body which recently allowed itself to be stampeded by ultra-Zionist fanatic trustee Jeffrey Wiesenfeld into denying middlebrow playwright Tony Kushner an honorary degree, apparently because Kushner is something less than a full-blown blood-to-the-elbows Likudnik.

Now it seems the institution is sophisticated enough to have figured out that this particular witch-hunt turned up somebody embarrassingly un-witchlike -- to wit, a mere liberal-schmiberal hand-wringer who "firmly supports Israel's right to exist" but wishes Israel would exist in a nicer way. So a backpedal is in progress. CUNY will sheepishly give the honorary sheepskin -- or goatskin, as the case may be -- and a mollified Kushner will graciously accept it, after much indignant Oscar Jaffe huffle-puffle about how badly he has been treated. I close the iron door! -- Okay, okay, I open the iron door. Just a crack. Fold that sheepskin and slip it in. Now go away, and you're lucky I don't criticize you more severely.

So far, so predictable. But here's the funny part. Thus Benno:

If it were appropriate for us to take politics into account in deciding whether to approve an honorary degree, I might agree with Trustee Wiesenfeld, whose political views on the matters in controversy are not far distant from my own.
Now if words mean anything, we can only conclude from this that Schmidt, too, finds Kushner's political views -- such as they are -- to be beyond the pale, you should pardon the expression. But it's a question of due process and perhaps of meritocracy, you see, so we're not supposed to take Kushner's unspeakably vile political views into account.

Here's a sample of Wiesenfeld's own political views, "not far distant" from Schmidt's, sicut ipse dixit:

[The reporter] tried to ask a question about... which side was more callous toward human life, and who was most protective of it.

But Mr. Wiesenfeld interrupted and said the question was offensive because “the comparison sets up a moral equivalence.”

Equivalence between what and what? “Between the Palestinians and Israelis,” he said. “People who worship death for their children are not human.”

Did he mean the Palestinians were not human? “They have developed a culture which is unprecedented in human history,” he said.

Unlike the Israelis, who have developed a culture for which there is, alas, ample precedent.

May 11, 2011

The jackboot and the jeanboot...

... both, apparently, have a "right to exist".

And why, you ask, was I image-googling the phrase "right to exist"? Well, you already know the answer, don't you? It's Israel, of course -- the only state whose "right to exist" is ever asserted as an unconditional and absolute imperative.

I've been following the Tony Kushner story, mentioned here before, and this phrase "Israel's right to exist" -- which Kushner, ho-hum, "firmly supports" -- has been recurring in Kushner's self-exculpations like one of the more tiresome leitmotifs in Parsifal. It goes to show both what a Zionist Kushner really is -- since nobody but Zionists deploys this phrase -- and also what a shallow, unthinking person he really is, since he has clearly never bothered to ask himself what exactly this ridiculous slogan means.

Did apartheid South Africa have a right to exist? The Confederate States of America? Yugoslavia? Greater Germany, aka the Third Reich? The old USSR? The Ottoman Empire? The Duchy of Burgundy? The Venetian Republic? The Papal States? Manchuguo? South Vietnam?

History is littered with states that ceased to exist -- who lost their right to exist, you might say, along with their existence. This doesn't ordinarily mean that the people whom those states ruled -- or, for that matter, the people who ruled them -- ceased to exist. People and land generally stick around, but borders change, and regimes change. Big states get broken up, and small states get swallowed up. Even when neither of those dire fates befalls them, they often change their character and political arrangements. Black folks get emancipated. Women get the vote. Palestinians get reparations, equal political status, and a right of return.

States, and the political orders associated with them, are contingent, and they have no absolute right to exist -- not Israel, not the United States, not even Canada. States exist by consent of the people they rule, and the other states in the neighborhood. Provoke too many of the people, or the other states, long enough -- and you are, well, history.

And hey, Clio, when it comes to Israel -- we're waiting.

In the meantime, this notion, "right to exist", is not entirely useless. It's a kind of reverse pons-asinorum: any time you hear somebody say it, you know you're listening to a liar or a fool.

May 21, 2011

Bibi to Obie: Fuck you

And Obie, in response: Oh. Okay.

The only thing that's puzzling in this story is why Obie bothered to say anything at all. This is a guy who hired the ultra-Zionist fanatic Dennis Ross as an adviser, and the ultra-Zionist fanatic Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, and and and. He is clearly not a bit interested in grasping the Israeli nettle, or doing anything for the Palestinians.

The most plausible line of speculation I've heard is that Obie is trying to sweet-talk the Palestinians into dropping their campaign for international recognition at the UN this fall.

The General Assembly would no doubt vote lopsidedly in their favor, including, it appears, a number of European countries, who are pretty fed up with the Sir Giles Overreach mentality of the Israelis. But of course it will never reach the General Assembly, since Obie has already promised to veto it it in the Security Council. (When you hear the word "security", count the spoons.)

Of course the Assembly could always pass a resolution favoring Palestinian statehood in principle, and even if it didn't, the Security Council veto would be embarrassing and perhaps even dangerous, considering the state of affairs in the Arab world these days. Particularly if the actual Security Council vote were also lopsided, and Obie's veto the only finger in the dike.

So is it all a shadow play -- Obie's and Bibi's mutual dislike and distrust just another professional-wrestling script? Obie is playing Good Cop vis-a-vis the Arabs, and Bibi is playing the other guy? Is Bibi trying to affect American politics -- perhaps paying some old debts to the Likudniks' Rebublican soul mates? Does he just see Obie as a weak sister, and want to hang yet another American politician's scalp in the Israel Lobby teepee? Nothing succeeds like excess.

Well, who knows. This is the kind of speculation I try to discourage among other Lefties. We'll find out in twenty years, when the memoirs start coming out. In the meantime it's perfectly clear that in spite of Obie's tentative and halfhearted reference to the '67 borders, this administration will do absolutely nothing, nothing, nothing to interfere with the mad dogs of Israel.

May 24, 2011

In other news, US Congress still shameless

So while Obie played ping-pong in London with the British PM, back at home, a joint session -- joint session! -- of the US Congress were baying themselves hoarse like football hooligans at every chest-thumping wolf ticket from that cheap gangster Benjamin Netanyahu (accent on the "yahoo").

Maybe Obie should stay in London and Netanyahu just move into the White House. He could certainly get stuff through Congress. Hell, they'd vote to deify him if AIPAC hinted that it might be a good thing.

September 6, 2011

Spiking the story

Fascinating item in the Times today -- fascinating for several reasons:

When Shamai K. Leibowitz, an F.B.I. translator, was sentenced to 20 months in prison last year for leaking classified information to a blogger, prosecutors revealed little about the case. They identified the blogger in court papers only as “Recipient A.” After Mr. Leibowitz pleaded guilty, even the judge said he did not know exactly what Mr. Leibowitz had disclosed.

“All I know is that it’s a serious case,” Judge Alexander Williams Jr., of United States District Court in Maryland, said at the sentencing in May 2010. “I don’t know what was divulged other than some documents, and how it compromised things, I have no idea.”

So we now have judges who are trying and sentencing people without knowing what they are supposed to have done. Truly we live in an age of miracle and wonder.
Now the reason for the extraordinary secrecy surrounding the Obama administration’s first prosecution for leaking information to the news media seems clear: Mr. Leibowitz, a contract Hebrew translator, passed on secret transcripts of conversations caught on F.B.I. wiretaps of the Israeli Embassy in Washington. Those overheard by the eavesdroppers included American supporters of Israel and at least one member of Congress, according to the blogger, Richard Silverstein.

In his first interview about the case, Mr. Silverstein .... said he had burned the secret documents in his Seattle backyard after Mr. Leibowitz came under investigation in mid-2009....

...Mr. Silverstein took the blog posts he had written based on Mr. Leibowitz’s material off his site after the criminal investigation two years ago.... He said the transcripts also included a three-way conversation between a congressman from Texas, an American supporter of the congressman and an embassy official; Mr. Silverstein said he could not recall any of the names.

One imagines that Leibowitz -- to whom be all honor, by the way -- regrets now that he didn't have the שכל to give his material to some bloody-minded resolutes, like, say, Wikileaks, rather than this squishy self-censoring Tikkunist Silverstein. My man Julian Assange, we can confidently say, would not have burned the documents and strangely forgotten the name of a US Congressman having ex parte communications with the Israeli Embassy, communications I'm sure we would all dearly love to hear.

September 19, 2011

On the one hand, on the other hand

The indispensable IOZ commented recently on a post here, about the upset in Anthony Weiner's old bun -- er, district, to wit, New York's Ninth :

On one of those NPR call-in shows this weekend, they were really laying it on thick. Obama is going to lose the Jews for a generation if he doesn't out-Avigdor Lieberman Avigdor Lieberman soon. I doubt it, of course; Republican-party optics are too Christian... Rick Perry's rootin-tootin routine just doesn't appeal to The People.
It's not even clear how much of a role Zionomania played in the Ninth District result; there was plenty of other stuff going on. But arguendo, let's accept the Zion-centric view of the result. What are the implications?

As Kissinger said to Nixon, Vell, Mr President, zere are Jews, und zen zere are Jews. The Ninth is full of Ultra-Ultras; very few of the other places in the country where Jews live in any numbers are quite so nutty on the subject (apart from Hollywood, of course).

Then there's the generational thing. The American Jewish Committee, which keeps a very nervous finger on the pulse of American Jewry and conducts polls about every five seconds, has found a very consistent downward trend among younger Jews in their attitude toward the Zionist project. Increasingly, they don't give a fuck, which certainly tends to underscrore the universally-acknowledged fact that the Jews are an intelligent people.

IOZ is certainly right about the general distrust within the tribe for people like Rick Perry, who looks like just the sort of guy who might have lynched your grandfather, or wanted to. But IOZ may perhaps be slightly underestimating the Shvartzer Effect. I remember the way the alter-kakers talked about the harmless David Dinkins here in New York; and the thuggish young guys from Brooklyn -- the guys with the knit kipot on their short-cropped scalps -- weren't far behind. But again, this is partly generational and partly local.

Still, though, wouldn't it be just grand if the Dems got bunged out of office for not being Zionist enough? The kind of injustice that's deeply just on a higher plane; the justice of the verdict thrown into sharper relief by the injustice of the indictment.

September 28, 2011

The Tadjik defense

Of course I'm a huge admirer of Noam Chomsky, always have been, but in the clip above he seems perilously close to what I call The Tadjik Defense.

This goes back to a demonstration I attended, back in, what was it, '82? -- against one of Israel's invasions of Lebanon. Perhaps I was leafletting. Suddenly a frantic wild-haired chap came rushing out of the shadows and thrust his contorted face uncomfortably close to mine. He looked a bit like Alan Dershowitz. In fact, he may have been Alan Dershowitz.

"What about the Tadjiks?!" he screamed.

I was nonplussed. "The Tadjiks?" I stammered.

"The Tadjiks! The Tadjiks! You're always protesting about the Palestinians! Why aren't you protesting about the Tadjiks? I'll tell you why! You're a fucking anti-Semite, that's why!"

And Alan -- if it was Alan -- melted once more into the shadows whence he came.

I dined out on this story for a good three weeks, and the concept of the Tadjik Defense has proven very useful over the years.

Chomsky's reading of the situation is, of course, a lot more sophisticated than Alan's (if it was Alan). But I've always felt he errs a bit -- as many American Lefties do -- in regarding Israel as a mere puppet of the US. The reality is more complicated, I think.

November 26, 2011

A Daniel come to judgement

Above, my new hero, Rabbi Meir Hirsch, the learned leader of the very Orthodox and very anti-Zionist group Neturei Karta. I have known about these folks for some time, partly because a good friend of mine, a thoroughgoingly atheist lapsed Jew and Bolshie, got very helpful support from them, a few years ago, to travel and do extensive research, which led to a couple of rather good books. I'm being coy about the name because I don't actually know just how confidential, or not, this arrangement was supposed to have been. Suffice it to say that Neturei Karta, though they are deep deep Talmudists and very into the higher esoterica of the religion, are anything but bigots when it comes to advancing the causes they believe in. They'll work with anybody.

Liberals, however, are a different breed of cat: far more sectarian, in fact, than the supposedly obscurantist scholars of Neturei Karta. And not nearly as smart.

Today a staunchly anti-Zionist Facebook 'friend' of mine -- who I wish was a friend in the 3D world, but whom alas I have never met -- posted a link to a rather interesting interview with Rabbi Hirsch. It reminded me again of the suppleness and subtlety of theological reasoning -- the same quality that sends me looking for earnest exegeses of the Epistle to the Romans on the radio when I'm sailing overnight. The analysis is a lot sharper than anything you'll find on NPR, when you get one of the good ones.

Perhaps predictably, my 'friend's' post brought howls of execration from liberal blockheads -- and not even because he was being anti-Zionist, which his friends and followers were used to, but for an altogether different reason:

Yes by all means opportunistically push these misogynistic scoundrels, "true torah jews," haha what a joke.

No one should be a fan. Its like taking the problematic yet strategic deployment of jewish voices then shrugging and throwing principle to the winds. They are circus freaks.

...misogynistic nut-jobs....

I love that misogyny to push an agenda has now been categorized under the banner of "human rights." btw, if this was a nutcase misogynistic Christian group, I'm willing to bet money you wouldn't even touch it, never mind post it.

Now the eminent Rav had had nothing to say in his interview about the Woman Question, so I assume that the anti-misogynists quoted here were simply operating on the premise that all Orthodox Jews are retrograde on this topic.

Maybe they are; I don't know. But I was struck by the hysterical and even rather dehumanizing rhetoric of the beautiful humanists -- ''circus freaks,' 'nutcases'.

And oh the misogyny! Clearly the Orthodox Jews' supposed or actual 'misogyny' was supposed to disqualify them utterly from ally status. As would, no doubt, their position on the Gay Question and any number of other touchstones, ranging from a progressive income tax to proportional representation.

In fact, what it comes down to is that liberals can't be allies with anyone who doesn't think exactly as they do on every topic of any consequence. If this isn't the definition of sectarianism, what is?

About mini-me

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Stop Me Before I Vote Again in the mini-me category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Midterm madness is the previous category.

Most Important Election In History(tm) is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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