Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Hate Mail - I'm Not Going To Stop Pointing This Out Because Someone Calls Me A Name

I Am told that the consensus at THE Baby Blue "brain trust" - some of them really call it that - was against what I said in the comments here, yesterday.  As it would seem none of them read what I said, relying on Steve Simels' clips of that, they can bite me.  

What is really funny is that in just about every way, my evolving thinking on Israel and Palestine runs in a pretty exact parallel with that of one of my greatest heros, Howard Zinn.  Zinn, who I doubt most of them have read, was always considered a great hero among the Eschatots.   Apparently unlike most of them, I read him.   Here's what he had to say about that.   I will note that  since the original article, Howard Zinn's last interview in the March 2010 Moment magazine is behind a pay wall, I've taken the relevant passage from another source

How did you react to Israel’s creation in 1948? 

I didn’t know a lot about it, but I remember speaking at some gathering to celebrate its founding. I wasn’t a Zionist. I just vaguely knew that a Jewish state was being created and that seemed like a good thing. I had no idea that the Jews were coming into an area occupied by Palestinians.

Were you critical of Israel before 1967? 

Before 1967 Israel did not loom large in my consciousness. I was aware that there was a war between Israel and the Arab states in 1956, but it really wasn’t until 1967 and the taking of the occupied territories that I realized this was a serious problem. I remember reading I.F. Stone, who was very concerned with Israel.[see excerpt from Stone, below]

How do you discuss Israel and Palestine with Jews who might be resistant to claims that Israel bears some responsibility for the conflict? 

As always in very complicated issues where emotions come to the fore quickly, I try to first acknowledge the other party’s feelings. In the case of Israel I try to say, yes, I understand your sympathy for a Jewish state, and I understand that you become angry when rockets fall [in Sderot] or when a suicide bomber takes needless life. But that has to be seen in proportion. I try to appeal to the experience of Jews, the experience of the Holocaust, by saying, if it’s never again, it’s not just never again for Jews, it’s never again for anybody. I also try to present facts that are hard to put aside. Rockets from Gaza killed three Israelis; Israelis retaliated with an enormous bombardment that killed 1,000 people. You can’t simply write that off or say, well, they’re morally equivalent or it was bad on both sides. Or the Lebanese send rockets into Israel, killing a number of people, and the Israelis invade Lebanon in 1982 and there are 14,000 civilian casualties. These are horrors inflicted by a Jewish state. As a Jew I feel ashamed when I read these things…I [also] try to appeal to what I think are the best legacies of the Jewish people—people like Albert Einstein and Martin Buber, who cannot be simply written off, because they’re Jewish heroes. And these are people who were critical of Israel and sympathetic to Palestinians.

Do you think that Zionism was a mistake? 

I think the Jewish State was a mistake, yes. Obviously, it’s too late to go back. It was a mistake to drive the Indians off the American continent, but it’s too late to give it back. At the time, I thought creating Israel was a good thing, but in retrospect, it was probably the worst thing that the Jews could have done. What they did was join the nationalistic frenzy, they became privy to all of the evils that nationalism creates and became very much like the United States—very aggressive, violent and bigoted. When Jews were without a state they were internationalists and they contributed to whatever culture they were part of and produced great things. Jews were known as kindly, talented people. Now, I think, Israel is contributing to anti-Semitism. So I think it was a big mistake.

I will cut the commentary from the Jewish Journal, where I took these excerpts from, you can read what they said about Howard Zinn's interview at the second link above. 

Ideally, there should be a secular state in which Arabs and Jews live together as equals. There are countries around the world where different ethnic groups live side by side. But that is very difficult and therefore the two-state solution seems like the most practical thing, especially since both Jews and Palestinians seem to favor it. It’s odd: All these people on both sides want a two-state solution, but it can’t come into being. The basic problem is the fanaticism of people like Benjamin Netanyahu and people who don’t want to give up the occupied territories. The settlements also pose a real problem. But it’s a problem that’s solvable. It was solved in the agreement with Egypt [when the settlers were removed from Sinai]. This time it’s more serious, but there are ways in which settlers can be compensated or assured of their rights in a Palestinian state as a quid pro quo for the rights of Arabs in the Jewish state.

Since reading him had as much of an impact on my thinking as it did on Zinn's, here's one of the pieces by I.F. Stone on the topic.  

THE MYTH that the Arab refugees fled because the Arab radios urged them to do so was analyzed by Erskine B. Childers in the London Spectator May 12, 1961. An examination of British and US radio monitoring records turned up no such appeals; on the contrary there were appeals and "even orders to the civilians of Palestine, to stay put." The most balanced and humane discussion of the question may be found in Christopher Sykes's book Crossroads to Israel: 1917-48 (at pages 350-57). "It can be said with a high degree of certainty," Mr. Sykes wrote, "that most of the time in the first half of 1948 the mass exodus was the natural, thoughtless, pitiful movement of ignorant people who had been badly led and who in the day of trial found themselves forsaken by their leaders…. But if the exodus was by and large an accident of war in the first stage, in the later stages it was consciously and mercilessly helped on by Jewish threats and aggression toward Arab populations…It is to be noted, however, that where the Arabs had leaders who refused to be stampeded into panic flight, the people came to no harm." Jewish terrorism, not only by the Irgun, in such savage massacres as Deir Yassin, but in milder form by the Haganah, itself "encouraged" Arabs to leave areas the Jews wished to take over for strategic or demographic reasons. They tried to make as much of Israel as free of Arabs as possible.

The effort to equate the expulsion of the Arabs from Palestine with the new Jewish immigration out of the Arab countries is not so simple nor so equitable as it is made to appear in Zionist propaganda. The Palestinian Arabs feel about this "swap" as German Jews would if denied restitution on the grounds that they had been "swapped" for German refugees from the Sudetenland. In a sanely conceived settlement, some allowance should equitably be made for Jewish properties left behind in Arab countries. What is objectionable in the simplified version of this question is the idea that Palestinian Arabs whom Israel didn't want should have no objection to being "exchanged" for Arabic Jews it did want. One uprooting cannot morally be equated with the other.

A certain moral imbecility marks all ethnocentric movements. The Others are always either less than human, and thus their interests may be ignored, or more than human and therefore so dangerous that it is right to destroy them. The latter is the underlying pan-Arab attitude toward the Jews; the former is Zionism's basic attitude toward the Arabs. M. Avnery notes that Herzl in his book The Jewish State, which launched the modern Zionist movement, dealt with working hours, housing for workers, and even the national flag but had not one word to say about the Arabs! For the Zionists the Arab was the Invisible Man. Psychologically he was not there. Achad Ha-Am, the Russian Jew who became a great Hebrew philosopher, tried to draw attention as early as 1891 to the fact that Palestine was not an empty territory and that this posed problems. But as little attention was paid to him as was later accorded his successors in "spiritual Zionism," men like Buber and Judah Magnes who tried to preach Ichud, "unity," i.e. with the Arabs. Of all the formulas with which Zionism comforted itself none was more false and more enduring than Israel Zangwill's phrase about "a land without people for a people without a land." Buber related that Max Nordau, hearing for the first time that there was an Arab population in Palestine, ran to Herzl crying, "I didn't know that—but then we are committing an injustice." R. J. Zwi Werblowsky, Dean of the faculty of letters at the Hebrew University, in the first article of this anthology's Israeli section, writes with admirable objectivity, "There can be no doubt that if Nordau's reaction had been more general, it would seriously have paralyzed the élan of the Zionist movement." It took refuge, he writes, in "a moral myopia."

This moral myopia makes it possible for Zionists to dwell on the 1900 years of Exile in which the Jews have longed for Palestine but dismiss as nugatory the nineteen years in which Arab refugees have also longed for it. "Homelessness" is the major theme of Zionism but this pathetic passion is denied to Arab refugees. Even Meir Yaari, the head of Mapam, the leader of the "Marxist" Zionists of Hashomer Hatzair, who long preached bi-nationalism, says Israel can only accept a minority of the Arab refugees because the essential reason for the creation of Israel was to "welcome the mass of immigrant Jews returning to their historic fatherland!" If there is not room enough for both, the Jews must have precedence.

And, here is another, more recent piece by Max Blumenthal.

Only a few kilometers from Umm al-Hiran, in the southern Negev Desert and inside the Green Line, the state of Israel has initiated another ambitious project to “concentrate” an unwanted population. It is the Saharonim detention facility, a vast matrix of watchtowers, concrete blast walls, razor wire, and surveillance cameras that now comprise what the British Independent has described as “the world’s biggest detention center.”

Originally constructed as a prison for Palestinians during the First Intifada, Saharonim was expanded to hold 8,000 Africans who had fled genocide and persecution. Currently, it is home to at least 1,800 African refugees, including women and children, who live in what the Israeli architectural group Bikrom has called “a huge concentration camp with harsh conditions.”

Like the Bedouins of the Negev’s unrecognized villages, the 60,000 African migrants and asylum seekers who live in Israel have been identified as a demographic threat that must be purged from the body of the Jewish state. In a meeting with his cabinet ministers in May 2012, Netanyahu warned that their numbers could multiply tenfold “and cause the negation of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.” It was imperative “to physically remove the infiltrators,” the prime minister declared. “We must crack down and mete out tougher punishments.”

In short order, the Knesset amended the Infiltration Prevention Act it had passed in 1954 to prevent Palestinian refugees from ever reuniting with the families and property they were forced to leave behind in Israel. Under the new bill, non-Jewish Africans can be arrested and held without trial for as long as three years. (Israel’s Supreme Court has invalidated the amendment, but the government has made no moves to enforce the ruling, and may not do so.) The bill earmarked funding for the construction of Saharonim and a massive wall along the Israeli-Egyptian border. Arnon Sofer, a longtime Netanyahu advisor, also urged the construction of “sea walls” to guard against future “climate change refugees.”

“We don’t belong to this region,” Sofer explained.

In that single sentence, he distilled the logic of Israel’s system of ethnocracy. The maintenance of the Jewish state demands the engineering of a demographic majority of nonindigenous Jews and their dispersal across historic Palestine through methods of colonial settlement. State planners like Sofer refer to the process as “Judaization.” Because indigenous Palestinians and foreign migrants are not Jews, the state of Israel has legally defined most of them as “infiltrators,” mandating their removal and permanent relocation to various zones of exclusion—from refugee camps across the Arab world to walled-off West Bank Bantustans to the besieged Gaza Strip to state-constructed Bedouin reservations to the desert camp of Saharonim.

As long as the state of Israel holds fast to its demographic imperatives, the non-Jewish outclass must be “concentrated” to make room for exclusively Jewish settlement and economic development. This is not a particularly humane system, to be sure, but it is one that all within the spectrum of Zionist opinion, from the Kahanist right to the J Street left, necessarily support. Indeed, if there is any substantial disagreement between the two seemingly divergent camps, it is over the style of rhetoric they deploy in defense of Israel’s ethnocracy. As the revisionist Zionist ideologue Ze’ev Jabotinsky wrote in his famous 1923 “Iron Wall” essay outlining the logic of what would become Israel’s deterrence strategy, “there are no meaningful differences between our ‘militarists’ and our ‘vegetarians.’”

During the Oslo era, the time of hope that prevailed in mid-1990’s Israel, it was the “dovish” Labor Party of Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak that began surrounding the Gaza Strip with barricades and electrified fencing while drawing up plans for a wall separating the West Bank from “Israel proper.” (That blueprint was implemented under the prime ministership of Ariel Sharon.)

“Us over here, them over there” was the slogan of Barak’s campaign for reelection in 1999, and of the Peace Now camp supporting a two-state solution at the time. Through the fulfillment of the Labor Party’s separationist policies, the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank have gradually disappeared from Israel’s prosperous coastal center, consolidating cities like Tel Aviv as meccas of European cosmopolitanism—“a villa in the jungle,” as Barak said.

With the post-Oslo political transition that shattered Israel’s “peace camp,” ascendant right-wing parties set out to finish the job that Labor had started. By 2009, when Israel elected the most hawkish government in its history, the country was still full of “infiltrators,” the most visible of whom were those African migrants, deprived of work permits and increasingly forced to sleep in parks in south Tel Aviv. According to a report by the newspaper Haaretz on a brand new Israel Democracy Institute poll on Israeli attitudes, “Arabs no longer top the list of neighbors Israeli Jews would consider undesirable, replaced now by foreign workers. Almost 57% of Jewish respondents said that having foreign workers as neighbors would bother them.”


Reading things like that shaped my thinking on these issues.   Most people on the left won't talk about the Israeli-Palestinian issues because they are afraid of the kind of bullying coercion that calls any criticism of Israel "anti-semitism", as it devolves into the apartheid-fascist-military-fascist regime it was bound to turn into.  There isn't another country on Earth that could do what is done by the Israeli government and get off without it being noted as wrong, well, except the United States.

Only the left in the United States doesn't hold back on noting the moral atrocities committed by the United States.   I'm totally in favor of that.   I don't think anyone who has read what I've written about my country would say I was anything but a severe critic of it and the things that have been done under its tragically flawed Constitution which are leading us into an apartheid-fascist-military-fascist regime.   I'm certainly not going to pretend it isn't happening in a country I don't even live in but which gets massive aid and support from my own government.  Not because a bunch of bigoted assholes are going to call me names over it. 

Compared to the "mistake" that Howard Zinn calls the Zionist project, the alternative I said offering Jews a homeland donated by the United States or citizenship in the United would have had a better chance of being better.  The present day, Jewish population of Israel is between 6,100,000 and 6,200,000 with 25% of the total population being non-Jewish and, clearly, if Blumenthal is to be believed, considered to be, legally and in real terms, an ethnic underclass.   I don't see the slightest reason to think things are going to get better,  I don't see any chance that real democrats will ever govern Israel, even if you want to call what Labor did "democracy".    All I can see is a total disaster waiting to happen.  With Trump about to take office, I'd say the chances of that total disaster, up to and including the possibility of nuclear war, is likely at its highest point, ever.   I don't think that considering what would happen if Israel either were the victim of, or the initiators of a nuclear attack can be considered to be entirely unrealistic or even less likely than in the period when the Israeli government certainly considered it realistic enough that it developed nuclear weapons. 

If the alternatives considered by the original generation of Zionists, including the "Uganda Proposal" (not my term) would have been better is doubtful but, as Stone says, the Zionists, from the start, tried to tie their plans in with European colonialism.  It was bound to be negatively impacted by the breakups of the imperial powers in place as it formed.   I am pretty sure that the two things  I said would have been better couldn't have had a worse result for Jews or Palestinians or the others who have been harmed by the imperialism of the various powers involved.   You will note if you look at this last link, that Canada and Australia were also considered as possible locations of a Jewish Homeland, only, those were dropped.  The Jewish Virtual Library says 

Zangwill became the movement's undisputed leader. After the rejection of the Uganda scheme on the grounds of impracticability by the British, Zangwill turned his attention to settlement in Canada and Australia. But opposition from local residents led him to abandon the scheme.

Considering Canada has the world's 4th largest Jewish Community, I doubt  establishing a Jewish state there would have really met with the kind of opposition it did and continues to in Palestine. I suspect that the Europeans who scoped it out took the objections of Europeans more seriously than they would have Arabs.   I don't know enough about Australia to post a guess.  I suspect it would not have discriminated against white Europeans in the way it does the indigenous population.   But, as Stone pointed out, no one has treated those it stole a country from well. 

Until recently, the United States had the largest Jewish population, Israel only overtaking it in numbers in 2013.  I would bet that Jews living in the United States are, generally, far more personally secure than those living in Israel as are those living in Canada.  I am pretty sure that either or both countries would have accepted a Jewish homeland far better than it was accepted in Palestine.  I'd love to have a far larger Jewish citizenship of the United States, living in safety, being generally a progressive segment of the population, but, apparently, such an idea is considered anti-Semitism.  Compared to Europe, America has an excellent record of accepting Jews.  I think it would have been a far better bet than the one taken. 


  1. "I am pretty sure that either or both countries would have accepted a Jewish homeland far better than it was accepted in Palestine."

    Maybe on the Bizarro World, Sparky, but here on earth, not so much. Mass Jewish migration to the United States? Gee, I wonder why nobody thought about that in the 30s and 40s when the Jews were being wiped out.

    Good god, you're an ahistorical idiot.

    1. Israel wasn't established until 1948. Or didn't you know that.

      And, as we can see, putting it in Palestine has been such a total success.

      I'm curious, have you ever been there? You know, where it's so safe and secure?

    2. You do know that the Jews of Europe would not have been allowed to emigrate here in mass numbers, right? And you do know why that is, right?

      I'll give you a clue. Anti-semitism. It was very big here at the time. And still is, as you demonstrate all the time.

    3. And as far as me vacationing in the Holy Land, I'm sure you think this is a really clever argument, Sparkles.

      Here's another clue: It isn't. And it just makes you look even dumber by making it. The hypocrisy of an anti-semite telling me "Israel -- Love it or Leave It" is delicious.

    4. So the answer is apparently no.

      That wasn't an argument, it was a point of interest. So, you've never put your own sweet fat ass in the line of fire that you're so happy to have millions of other people live in.

      How could you leave it if you've never been there?

    5. And that was opposed to them having permission to emigrate to Palestine? Um, dopey, you should try reading the actual history instead of the inside of your rectum.

      I'm happy to propose we put up the offer right now. How about it, Stevie, six million more Jews living here in the peace you've enjoyed your entire life instead of living in Israel? Would you be in favor of having them living in the United States?

    6. Only if they are.

      Meanwhile, keep digging.

    7. "If you like Israel so much, why don't you move there?"

      You really can't hear yourself, can you?

    8. You didn't answer the question. I'll answer it for you, because you're too chicken shit to put your own ass in danger or to suffer a lowering of your American lifestyle. Instead you just want to continue the slide down into the disaster that will likely increase as Trump and his ship of fools crash the world into the rocks. I'm sure it makes you feel real good about yourself, doesn't it, Stevie.

    9. Ooh, what you gonna do, report me to the Student Council at Eschaton?


  2. "Before 1967 Israel did not loom large in my consciousness."

    Thus proving that Zinn has no fucking idea what he's talking about on this subject.

    1. I'm just going to post our stupidity, Simps. I'd love to see you put your credibility up against Howard Zinn's anywhere among people who weren't as stupid and dishonest as you are. The results would be hilarious.