Foxman, Rosner and Obama’s January Surprise

Gershom Gorenberg

Responding to the appointment of George Mitchell as Barack Obama’s Mideast envoy, Abe Foxman has achieved something remarkable: He has outdone Marty Peretz in the tasteless-comment competition among the self-appointed cheerleaders of Israel. And Foxman did it without using words unprintable in this respectable blog.

Peretz, still listed as editor-in-chief of The New Republic, greeted the beginning of the Israeli air campaign in Gaza in December by describing its message as: “Do not f— with the Jews.”

The comment starkly revealed the psychology of a good many Diaspora hawks. No matter how successful they have been, no matter how successful Jews in general have been in America and other Western countries, they still feel a deep insecurity,  a loathing for their own imagined weakness. When they think of Israel, they think of a Jewish boxer with a star of David on his trunks, womping a gentile. They have the pleasure of the spectator at the boxing ring, vicariously throwing the punch without having to take the pain of the blows. Meawhile, their own children go from high school to college, rather than to army service. Whenever another Jew questions the sense or the ethics of behaving in this fashion, they accuse him of self-hate.  (Haim has already done a fine job of tearing apart this kind of thinking, so I won’t try to add more.)

Now comes Foxman. The national director of the Anti-Defamation League was asked by the Jewish Week’s Jim Besser to comment on President Obama’s appointment of Mitchell to revive Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking.  Here’s the response:

“Sen. Mitchell is fair. He’s been meticulously even-handed,” said Abraham Foxman […] “But the fact is, American policy in the Middle East hasn’t been ‘even handed’ – it has been supportive of Israel when it felt Israel needed critical U.S. support.

“So I’m concerned,” Foxman continued. “I’m not sure the situation requires that kind of approach in the Middle East.”

Thanks, Abe. Heaven forfend that American policy should be afflicted with fairness. That Foxman would think this way is in itself merely disappointing, not shocking. It’s zero-sum thinking: even-handedness means a gain for Arabs, therefore a loss for Israel. It does not include the possibility that fairness will lead to peace, which will be better for Israelis and Palestinians (though perhaps damaging to Diaspora organizations whose fundraising depends on constant anxiety that Arabic-speaking cossacks will storm Israel, misimagined as shtetl.)

But expressing the thought, on the record, for publication, is an arrogance of record-setting proportion. Excuse me, he says to the president, you’re not supposed to be fair. You’re supposed to do our bidding. Really, to be that tasteless without four-letter words is impressive.

It’s a very small defense of Foxman that he was almost certainly taken by surprise by Mitchell’s appointment. Beforehand, discussion of who’d get the new post focused on Dan Kurtzer and Martin Indyk. Mitchell was Obama’s January surprise.

Mitchell’s experience includes negotiating an agreement to end the Northern Ireland conflict, which seemed as intractable as the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.  In itself, the appointment hints that Obama is extremely serious about reviving peace efforts. Like a number of other Obama appointments of former senators and congressmen, it suggests that the president is aware that to carry out his agenda, he’ll have to work with Congress, rather than ignoring it or trying to overpower it. (Note to AIPAC: the game just began, and you are close to being in check.)

Foxman isn’t the only one worried. Shmuel Rosner, the neoconservative former Ha’aretz correspondent, writes in the New Republic about what really scares him in Mitchell’s 2001 report on the Second Intifada. It’s not the call to freeze settlement. Rather, say Rosner, it’s this:

The report says that “we were provided with no persuasive evidence that the [Ariel] Sharon visit [to Temple Mount in 2000] was anything other than an internal political act; neither were we provided with persuasive evidence that the PA planned the uprising.” This was, arguably, the most devastating rebuke of Israel’s claims–what most Israelis believe today, and what the Bush administration eventually came to believe –that Arafat wanted, initiated, planned, and executed this terror campaign.

In other words, what scares Rosner is that Mitchell challenged the accepted Israeli narrative since 2000: that the failure of the Oslo process was entirely due to Palestinians’ unwillingness to make peace, that Arafat planned and initiated the uprising when he couldn’t get what he wanted through negotiations, that peace is therefore impossible. To bolster his own version of events, Rosner brings two remarkable proofs: Most Israelis believe otherwise, and the Bush administration believes otherwise.

Most Israelis believe otherwise because 1) it was politically expedient for both Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon to claim that the intifada was premeditated, rather than to admit any errors of their own; 2) that explanation fits the uprising into the old narrative of timeless emnity; 3) every group in a conflict tends to see the other side as united and their own side as divided.

As for the Bush administration – uh, Shmuel, you want to think about that for a moment? Those folks aren’t in power any more. (Sing hallelujah, sisters and brothers, sing hallelujah.) And one reason they were so unpopular was their allergy to facts.

Examined coolly, the events in 2000 fit much more easily into Mitchell’s perspective. Sharon visited the Mount for internal political gains. Israel used too much force in dealing with demonstrations the day afterward. Deaths at Haram al-Sharif ignited violent protests, to which Israel responded in a manner akin to the Chelmites who tried to put out a fire by throwing logs on it: A show of force that ignited more fury.

Rosner doesn’t like this possibility. It means we might have made mistakes. It holds out the frightening possibility of peace. It demands of both Israelis and Palestinians to revise their stories of the past and their expectations of the future. This demand is precisely what’s needed to move forward.

Mitchell is expected here very soon. Before he arrives, I have two reading suggestions for him. First, check Mouin Rabbani’s article on how the Gaza War has rended Mahmud Abbas irrelevant. Rabbani’s writing is fire and ice: a mix of his usual restraint and righteous fury at Abbas’s behavior:

The reasons for Abbas’s demise are few, and they predate the Israeli attack on Gaza… Key to this is Abbas’s relationship to his people: simply put, it never existed. Arafat saw the Palestinians as the ace in the deck to be played when all else failed, and understood that his leverage with outside actors derived from their conviction that he represented the Palestinian people. If he consistently failed or refused to properly mobilise this primary resource, he at least always held it in reserve.

Abbas has by contrast been an inveterate elitist, who seems to have regarded the Palestinian population as an obstacle to be overcome so that the game of nations could proceed – there are after all only so many seats at the table where great statesmen like Abbas, George Bush and Ehud Olmert together create the contours of a new Middle East.

Second, check Yossi Alpher’s article on the absurdity of using siege tactics to convince Palestinians in Gaza to overthrow Hamas:

This economic-warfare strategy against Gaza has failed totally; indeed, it has proven counterproductive. Now is the right time for all involved to reconsider its usefulness and thereby raise a major contribution to long-term cease-fire efforts.

Yes, that means Mitchell faces a very difficult challenge. In order to promote Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, he may need to promote internal Palestinian talks, aimed at creating a unified leadership with popular legitimacy.

Doing that will be just of one of the things that will inspire resistance from the government here and from the Diaspora hawks. Expect further competition for most tasteless comment.

Unlike Abe Foxman, I wish Mitchell success. Our futures might depend on it.

40 thoughts on “Foxman, Rosner and Obama’s January Surprise”

  1. The Arab/Israeli conflict IS a Zero-Sum game because the Arabs have defined it so. The aim of ALL, both “moderates” (those who disguise their aims for various reasons) and the “extremists” (those who tell Israel and the West the truth) is to eradicate Israel. Sure there are differences of opinion about how to go about this, and how long it will take but there is no argument about their aims. Efraim Inbar and Mordechai Kedar had an article in the Jerusalem Post pointing out that Egypt has no interest or ability to stop the arms flow into Gaza because they view Gaza as a thorn in the side to Israel and Egypt opposes Israel living in peace, thus they oppose an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, EVEN THOUGH THEY THEMSELVES HAVE ONE. And they are “moderates”?!

    The Arabs and more specifically, the Palestinians do not lack for rich and influential friends around the world. Israel, on the other hand, doesn’t have many. So why should you “progressives” want a “even-handed” American policy instead of one that is “pro-Israel”? Because you wrongly believe that the key to peace is FORCING the Israeli gov’t to make concessions you want but which you are afraid they won’t make otherwise. You are like the partisans in the war between the two claimants to leadership of the Judean state in the time of the Hashmonaim, Aristobolus and Hyrcanus, who invited the Romans in to decide who will rule, but instead came in and took over themselves. You “progressives” have lost the internal debate in Israel such that the majority opposed throwing Jews out of most of Judea/Samaria, so you want so outsider to come in and impose YOUR policies against the wishes of the majority , “for our own good”, of course. This merely illustrates the political and moral failure of the Left who threw their entire wad on the corrupt, deceitful Oslo Agrement with terrorist chief Arafat, who as we on the Right warned, did not bring peace, but merely brought death and destruction to both sides. It is time to try new leadership and a new approach that this time looks reality in the eye and does not lood for Deux Ex-Machina solutions from people like Obama and Mitchell who can’t deliver.

  2. I suggest you read General Moshe (Boogey) Ya’alon’s book. He points out your claim that Arafat didn’t plan the violence, ALL OF IT, from the time he arrived in 1994, is nonsense. BTW-he SUPPORTED the Oslo Agreements when they were made, is still today a big admirer of Rabin and he was in crucial positions as head of Military Intelligence and Central Command, later Chief of Staff during the whole period of Oslo to know exactly what was going on. Arafat intended to make a war from the very beginning AND HE SAID SO OPENLY.
    Why do you “progressives” seem to mostly take the side of Israel’s Arab enemies in their claims against Israel ?

  3. You write:
    “it was politically expedient for both Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon to claim that the intifada was premeditated, rather than to admit any errors of their own”
    but this leaves out the more likely possibility that the Sharon intrusion into the Mount was provocation, neither more nor less.

    The right-wing loves, needs, depends upon, and (where necessary) manufactures attacks from the other side. Provocation is the manufacture of a response which your own side can (in its turn, and in Israel’s manner overwhelmingly) respond-back to.

    It goes without saying (especially in the US press, which omits to say a great deal) that the provocation is never admitted to be such and is sometimes ignored entirely.

    In the US, the very long siege of Gaza (starving 1.5M people) was forgotten and the Israeli murder/assassination of numerous Hamas leaders was likewise forgotten (presumably because these were considered OK when Israel did them), but the rocket-fire from Gaza was seized upon as the starting-point for reportage of the recent unpleasantness.

    Think “provocation”, not “internal political reasons.”

  4. to presume, along with Mitchell, that “the Northern Ireland conflict, which seemed as intractable as the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians…” is a big mistake. In Ireland, for example, at least both sides were Christians and here we have Jews and Muslims. In Ireland you had suicide bombers? In Ireland, the Protestants were shipped in from England and here the Arabs shipped in from all over is a bit of a parallel but maybe I’m stretching it. Here we have the “right of return of refugees”. There they have bars and scotch though.

  5. Yisrael, the Northern Ireland conflict was not about religion, or hasn’t been for many decades. Religion was merely a convenient tag by which to identify people – and often wrongly so.
    I’ll never forget having been in the country in the summer of 1997, when Bernadette Martin was murdered, an 18-y/o Catholic girl from Aghalee, Co. Armagh, whose only crime was to have a Protestant boyfriend. An LVF man broke into his house where she lay sleeping and shot her four times in the head. (He escaped, but was later apprehended.)

    So what if there were no suicide bombers in N. Ireland? Do victims of non-suicidal bombings bleed any less, are they any less dead? A bit closer to home, you could ask the Gazans what they think of being bombed when the bombers 30000′ above face not the slightest risk themselves, apart from a slight bump on the wing.

    The extremists on both sides in this conflict certainly instrumentalise religion for political purposes, but otherwise the conflict is not about religion, rather about land and justice. Both sides will have to learn to keep their own religious zealots in check, without looking for excuses at what the other side does, and from what you write, I’m afraid that includes you.

    “The Arabs shipped in from all over” is not stretching it, it’s turning history on its head. There were people “shipped in from all over” from the late 19th century on, but it weren’t the Arabs.

  6. Please don’t forget, though, that when a single interest and its allies control such a large proportion of the so-called ‘mainstream’ or even ‘global’ mass media, as Jewish interests and their allies (not by any means all zionist in the formal sense, many just ‘liberal’), quite undeniably do in the USA, and to a slightly lesser extent elsewhere in the ‘West’, a tactic of provocation may be used: one deliberately provokes ‘anti-Semitic’ reactions by being, like Foxman, the archetypical ‘obnoxious Jew’, then one exploits those reactions as proof that the world is ‘anti-Semitic’.

  7. Y we have a tv commentator here in the U.S. who every night lines up some right wing people for “WORSE PEOPLE IN THE WORLD”I think you could be a good candidate. The category should rightly be “PEOPLE WHO MAKE THE DUMBEST STATEMENTS IN THE WORLD” there you are an outright winner.As I said before , people like you who are “so hot the trot “for military intervention have never seen combat.

  8. I dont see the Ireland conflict as anywhere comparable to the IP conflict. I just looked at the IRA charter and didnt see anything about wiping out England and driving it into the sea

  9. As a scotsman by heritage on one side of my family ,we of Clan MacKenzie resent being called Englishmen-ugh!The Highland clans were used in the Battle of Boyne and stayed in Ireland under the protection of William of Orange that is why they are called “Orangemen” and they dispossed their fellow Celts (The Irish) of their land and jobs. The clans had been swept off their by theLairds (the rotten Campbell’s)for many years with the help of the corrupt English royalty. Fiddler is right the”troubles” were always over economics and jobs not religion . Benson doesn’t understand the commitment of the IRA and the attitude of many American Irish to wipe out the British and most of the IRA aid comes from the U.S. even today.
    George Mitchell may not succeed but I can’t think of a better man to try.
    People like YBen-David don’t want anyone to succeed in getting a peaceful solution because they thrive on chaos and division which serves their self- centered desire for a dictatorial theocracy not just a quasi- theocracy which Israel is. No matter what the proposals are they will always cry ” we was robbed”

  10. The Irish situation became amenable to negotiations due to the general economic boom in Ireland and England. It became clear to the Northern Irish that they were not benefiting from the prosperity of those around them and that they would not benefit without peace. There is nothing comparable in the Israel-Palestine struggle.

  11. My name gives away my bias here. But while I do applaud the appointment of Senator Mitchell here and his even-handedness, there is another way to look at the hesitation of people like the ADL’s Abe Foxman.
    In American political media, balance in coverage has meant giving equal weight to both sides of an argument regardless of a sides use of facts. (i.e, Intelligent design gets equal time as an opposing view and not because it carries any scholarly weight.)
    I can agree that Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount was a political stunt, but why shouldn’t the Jewish people be allowed access to it?
    The Bible tells us that Abraham’s descendants would become a nation great and mighty. Islam refers to him as Ibrahim, but he’s the same person. He had to sons, Ishmael and Isaac. Shouldn’t their progeny share equal access to the Temple Mount?

  12. Y.Ben-David: If you truly believe that the Arab-Israeli conflict is a zero-sum game (what about Egypt and Jordan) then the ONLY conclusion you can arrive at is the annihilation of either the Arabs or the Jews. If that be the case, then get to the annihilating. You have the weaponry and they don’t.

  13. I respect George Mitchell and wish him well, Northern Ireland was a thankless labor and he bent himself to the task. May his name be remembered honorably.

    If I may, I’d like to throw another log on the fire….

    January 26, 2009
    Reality Obstruction Field Breached!

    By: John Caruso

    I thought I was hallucinating last night as I saw a segment on 60 Minutes that explained the reality of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. And by “reality” I actually do mean reality—presented in a fair amount of detail, making it perfectly clear who is the victim and who is the victimizer, and with almost zero reference to standard Israeli talking points. It started out with this quote from an Israeli settler…:

    I think that settlements prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state in the land of Israel. This is the goal and this is the reality.

    …and continued in essentially that same vein for 13 minutes. It wasn’t perfect, but given what we’re used to seeing from the mainstream media in this country it was nothing short of stunning. As I watched it I could only wonder what the average American (or the average American who watches 60 Minutes, anyway) would make of it, since compared to the steady stream of Israeli propaganda they usually receive it must have seemed like it was beamed here from Mars.

    I’m sure this breach in the reality obstruction field will be located and plugged soon, but for now go ahead and treat yourselves to 13 minutes of quality mainstream journalism on the Middle East. It doesn’t happen often. And given the avalanche of ADL-inspired hate mail CBS will no doubt be receiving soon, I think it’s worth writing to them to thank them for putting this piece on the air.

    (The transcript of the segment is available here, but I recommend watching rather than reading in this case since the visuals are a critical part of the story.)

    — John Caruso

  14. It seems to me that unless Israel repudiates G-d’s promise of all the land of Canaan, then the Arabs have no choice but to try to push it into the sea.

  15. lover of jazz: what the israelis are doing is inexcusable, but a lot of people will simply tune out when you compare them to nazis.

    I agree with you in a narrow tactical sense about avoiding this kind of analogy, depending on the situation. But I also disagree in many ways. One is that the comparison is ok if it’s restricted to the senses in which it’s accurate. I strongly disagree with people calling what’s been (or what’s being) done to the Palestinians “genocide”; it’s not, and misusing the phrase in that hyperbolic way immediately turns people off. But the comparison to the Warsaw Ghetto could hardly be more accurate, in my mind. And when I was in Jenin in 2002 (a few days after the Israeli army had finished its assault), walking through broken glass everywhere, witnessing the wanton and unnecessary destruction, and seeing the Stars of David the Israeli soldiers had spray-painted on many of the doors, I couldn’t help thinking of Kristallnacht.

    Also, as a general rule I think it’s often more effective to shock people with the truth. That last part is critical: it must be the truth. But if it is (and if you’re prepared to explain why, calmly and convincingly), hitting them with it full force can be much more effective in a tactical sense than the incremental approach of carefully tending to their sensibilities and slowly nudging them toward your viewpoint. I may do a posting about that someday.

    That’s where my tactical agreement with you comes in, though: there are audiences and places where I think that’s not appropriate, and where I either wouldn’t offer an outright comparison like this or would introduce it much more gently (e.g., noting how shocking and awful it is that the comparison applies). But in this case I’m not trying to gently persuade anyone about anything; these sadistic fuckers are trying to kill people I care about.

    Posted by: John Caruso | Sunday, December 28, 2008 at 09:36 AM

  16. I appreciate the frankness of your writing and the care with which you take to express yourself. I hope that we are at a moment where we can all step back from madness.

    The sad fact of the matter is that at some point we all learn we can’t kill our way to a real peace.

  17. I also had a bout of <esprit d’escalier after I posted my remark on the IRA. I meant to add, it’s not the ‘English’ but the ‘British’ who were and are the occupiers of Northern Ireland. If you look carefully at the terminology you will find “the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” , where “Great Britain” means the entire mainland, comprising England, Scotland, and Wales.

  18. But really this is a red herring. Almost all defenders of zionism rely on historical analogies of one sort or another, as if history was a law book from which one could extract legal precedents.

  19. The above comments by Rowan Berkeley should be removed as with any other comments in the past.
    He has a web site where he posts the most anti-semitic and virulent posts about Jews, Israel, Zionism and the likes. He will not be objective and his entire raison d’être is to promulgate the most venomous material available against the Jews and Eretz Israel including the notorious lier Norman Finkelstein et al.
    You can check his site. He should not be allowed to express his opinions here with the hate he harbors for the Jewish people.

  20. a few headers from his blog
    btw he has had blogs closed on him already

    yo, UNRWA, we own you, recall?
    hey, UN, we own you, recall?
    bullshit for breakfast
    January 27, 2009 by niqnaq

    ‘In Venezuela, anti-Semitism is endorsed by the government’
    Nir Hasson, Haaretz, Jan 26 2009
    some really authoritative nazi bullshit
    January 26, 2009 by niqnaq

    An ugly circle of anti-Semitism
    Avraham Avi-Haim, JPost, Jan 26 2009
    the military use of pornography (for yaron)
    amid dribbles of vicarious holocaust porn
    January 24, 2009 by niqnaq

    Nazi angel of death Josef Mengele
    ‘created twin town in Brazil’
    lucky for me they don’t mention intel
    January 23, 2009 by niqnaq

    Adapted from ISOC News

    more bullshit about ‘anti-Semitism’
    January 23, 2009 by niqnaq

    US Jews blast plan for anti-Israel UN official
    to attend Holocaust prayer service
    finkelstein: israel is a satanic state
    January 21, 2009 by niqnaq

    Norman Finkelstein interviewed by SELÇUK GÜLTASLI,
    “Today’s Zaman” (Turkey) Jan 19 2009
    jewish nazi bastards keep on lying
    January 20, 2009 by niqnaq

    Yad Vashem Chair : Nazi imagery
    at anti-Israel rallies incites violence

    anglo jewish nazis beat, bomb peaceniks
    January 18, 2009 by niqnaq

    fifty ways to bomb dimona
    January 15, 2009 by niqnaq

    a nice bit of holocaust porn
    January 15, 2009 by niqnaq

    boycott these
    January 14, 2009 by niqnaq

    Boycott Israel Now!

    Do not support the child-murderers, period.

    american-jewish nazism (call it what?)
    January 14, 2009 by niqnaq

  21. thanks for this reflective and fact-based article. I find members of my own family repeating anti-arab sentiments, with a lack of historical awareness that I find chilling. Mitchell does have his work cut out for him, and needs all the reasoned support he can get. The security of Israel, among other things, may hinge on his success.

  22. does this blog support people like this?
    i critized Julius Evola on his site and he refused to supply references.
    Evola worked with Himmler!
    See article:Revolting Julius Evola and the Blood Axis Fascists:
    Evola’s second wartime function was even more sinister. Working with fascist leaders throughout Central Europe Evola performed liaison services for the SS seeking to recruit a pan European army which would operate under the Waffen SS to expel the invading Allied armies. [8] Evola worked as a recruiter for Himmler’s SS in a last ditch effort to save the Reich from Allied invasion. In this regard Evola was a pawn of the SS in that leading Gestapo officers saw the war was lost and sought to fend off the Allies as long as possible as to plan their escape from Europe. As the Russian Army entered the outskirts of Berlin , it was the non-German SS – called the Legion of Charlemagne – who defended the Führer to the bloody end. At this juncture many leading SS officers had fled Europe and avoided prosecution for war crimes.

  23. The British are a derivation from the brittains , spelled various ways(a celtic tribe) . The term English comes the Germanic invaders the Angles(Angleland) who linked up with their fellow Germans the Saxon:thus we have the grouping called Anglo-Saxons which the “crackers” from the South like to refer to as the real Americans ” white anglo-saxon protestants” stupid I say. The Irish are a combination of the ancient people who inhabited the Island going back to the”stoneage”, the Druids, the Celts , the Norwegian Vikings and the Norman Vikings from whom we get the title bestowed on the nobles by William the Bastard ,Fitz : we get Fitzgerald ,Fitzpatrick and on and on. So JFK could say he his mother’s maiden name came from the hated English.If you travel in Wales,Cornwall,Scotland ,and even Northern Ireland and talk to the folk you find out that there isn’t too much united in the United Kingdom.

  24. @yaron: Yawn. If you’re so desperate to get your pants in a bunch about what a commenter wrote elsewhere, why don’t you take it *there*? We’re not necessarily privy to discussions on other blogs, nor do we absolutely need to be if they have nothing to do with the topic at hand. Your effort to get Gershom and Haim to censor someone for something he wrote elsewhere only makes you look like a clown.

  25. The Rockets have to stop. The blockade has to be disengaged. The expansion of and new development of settlements must be curtailed. There can be no peace if the Palestinians are pushed into small overpopulated, unproductive areas in the name of Israel’s security and if Israelies claim all the best land, best roads and best sources of water for themselves. The application of some common sense instead of partisan views would help.

  26. simply because this person masquerades as a good interested party but his intentions are maleficent e.g.speaking of jew on another site:

    “I think you have to start from the position that Judaism is an ideology – a criminal ideology – with a large number of variants (religious, secular, racial, communistic, exclusivist, pseudo-universalistic,etc.) all of which have in common the postulation of a species-like distinction between supposed ‘Jews’ and other humans. The notion that this ideology is especially appealing to people with a certain heredity is unprovable, as compared to the opposed notion that it is appealing to those to whom ‘jewish heredity’
    is ascribed circumstantially, on the merely sociological plane. ‘Cruor’ is by definition indemonstrable.”

    Is not every “limud” begun with מילי דבדיחותא and so therefore I am that clown.

  27. Pretending to psychoanalyze people you disagree with, like Peretz, is at best rude and at worst ignorant, wrong, and misleading.

    I doubt Rosner is a neocon. But he’s not afraid of the Mitchell report, he disagrees with it. There is no question who created the 2nd Intifada, it was the Palestinians. Whether it was Arafat or the Masses actually doesn’t matter that much.

    Neither fairness nor unfairness is likely to lead to peace. And being fair to your enemies is stupid.

    It’s the job of the President to do the bidding of his country, and that means knowing your friends from your enemies.

    Gorenberg has failed to make a contribution. The first thing he, among others, should do, is acknowledge that the kind of grand peace that people hope for will not happen in our lifetimes. Barring, that is, a grand and bloody victory by one side or the other. Once you see straight, you can think straight.

  28. Everyone asks: when will there be peace in the Middle East…the answer is that since the people of the Middle East are just like everyone else, there will never be peace…

    America has been at war or preparing for the next war for over two centuries…every 100 years or so the Europeans engage in a massive blood-letting…

    the competition of narratives is the sin qua non of human existence…Isocrates, circa the 5th century BC, wrote extensively about the “godless Persians…”…it never stops and it’s never going to stop…

    simply consider the number of competing narratives and players involved and try to game out how anyone could maneuver everyone towards a long-term agreement…

    Arabs, Arab moderates, Arab radicals and extremists, American Jews and Isralie Jews (and let’s be clear about how little a monolitich strucre there is in contemporary Jewish society; LA vs Shaker Heights vs Florida vs S.F. versus Manhattan vs upstate, vs Queens, vs Tel Aviv vs Paris, etc, etc, etc), European leftists and intellectuals, bankers, oil barons, arms dealers, drug dealers, religious pathologies galore and what do you have? You have a novel by Yaakov Shabtai or Mafouz…you have Tolstoy or Faulkner on the Jordan…and as one of the Barthelme brothers put it years ago: at the Tolstoy museum, things just keep happening…

    If it’s not Bin Laden it will be someone or something else…and people keep getting riled up and foaming at the mouth saying, IF only everyone were reasonable…IF only…the Arabs…If only the hawks…IF only the doves…IF…IF…IF…

    But instead after 10,000 years of this thing called civilization we can make a few vague guesses about how people behave and how things work…and it never looks good…war and more war and some disaster that was glimpsed only vaguely…and then it all starts all over again…exactly like a Faulkner novel…or Homer…or as Amichai put it: “They have put up many flags…we have put up many flags…”

    There will be no peace…eventually “Jordan” will become Palestine (Tolstoy adding an addendum to Thucydides was right that history comes down to the mass movement of people) because of a demographic tidal wave and the corollary of the Arab oil elite abandoning their own for the cultural morphology of living in the west…

    200 years from now the “Arabs” will be one sad step closer to cultural irrelevancy as they fade back into the desert and the oil money evaporates…the wealthy ones will turn into Brits and New Yorkers…the poor ones will look like something out of Mad Max…and without oil…no one will care about them…

    Once upon a time…people were terrified of the Medici…and the Borges…

    Now…not so much…

    As Kurt Vonnegut put it…so it goes…

  29. Dear C: yes, i’m sure you’d agree that, as the robber puts a gun to the head of his victim and steals his purse, it would be silly for anyone to say “hey, that’s a crime. and unjust.” everyone would and should just say “oh well, so it goes.”

    and i’m sure that, whenever they faced obstacles, chaim weizmann and ben-gurion and menachem begin etc etc all said in the ’20s and ’30s and ’40s, as they dramatically changed the demographic landscape *against the will of the indigenous majority* “oh well, so it goes.” (Not! and for fun, compare jewish views on how the local population ought to react to immigration of “others” in the ’20s for example to their attitude attitude now. have a look at any israeli statement on the right of return…. compared to the right of jewish immigration against the will of locals 70 years ago.)

    yes, there are competing narratives. likud’s public, unwavering commitment to prevent– EVER– the formation of an arab state between the jordan and sea (read the peace and security chapter of their platform at any/every point in history) gets ZERO airtime. yet all practically anyone knows about hamas is “they deny israel’s right to exist!”

    Yes, there are competing narratives. and hundreds of Billions of american dollars, F-16s, cluster bombs, laser guided bombs, apache attack helicopters, main battle tanks and so on can tip the scales.

    i’m sure if the arabs had, and used, those kinds of resources to kill thousands of israel civilians in this decade alone, you would simply say “oh well. whatever.”

    there’s nothing vague about it.

  30. yeah, and also, when Yaron quotes me saying ‘Cruor’ is by definition indemonstrable.” it does not seem to strike him that by saying this I am flatly denying the fundamental thesis of Evola’s racist worldview. Perhaps he has forgotten what the word ‘cruor’ means (it is after all an extremely arcane latin term). It means, the spiritual virtue of the blood.

  31. Ok, here we all are. We can each amass web/media data. We can tell others what our enemies are really like. What actions might jeapordize the certainties of all sides?

    There is apparently going to be a Likud government after Feb. elections. What can one do, in Israel, then, if one is not of that party? How can one act, act, to create a place for local alternative? Why does no one speak to the Israeli Arabs? Are there any Israeli Arabs reading this blog? Will they speak? Are they afraid to speak?

    Instead of mouthing to alter the greater world, what of one’s home, in Israel? Speaking of established platfrom positions is too easy. Speak where action, without the State, is possible.

    I apologize for arrogantly interfering yet again. But probably doesn’t mean I will stop.

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