Commenter Profile

An Anti-Semitism of the Left – Roger Cohen/The New York Times

March 7, 2016 6:09 pm
After a lengthy exposition devoted to the harm done by expressions like "Zio" and alleged verbal endorsements of Hamas, Cohen inserts a stunning admission- "Today, it is Palestinians in the West Bank who are dehumanized through Israeli dominion, settlement expansion and violence. The West Bank is the tomb of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state."  And he goes on to add- "The oppression of Palestinians should trouble every Jewish conscience." This is fairly strong stuff from someone whose main purpose in putting pen to paper is to inveigh against student groups on U.S. and British university campuses.  It seems to me that the reader is entitled to ask what actions the author has taken or recommends in addressing the real and terrible conditions to which he alludes.  Has he stood up to, rather than for, the Israeli government?  Has he offered his support to the oppressed people of Palestine?  Or has he directed his "troubled conscience" against those who are attempting, through activism in educational institutions, to do something real and meaningful on behalf of those whom Cohen concedes are suffering dehumanisation at the hands of Israel?

I won’t vote for Bernie Sanders: His feeble position on Israel is a serious progressive problem – Steven Salaita/

March 6, 2016 5:28 pm
I regard Steven Salaita's arguments on this topic as unanswerable and unassailable.  

Saudi Arabia turns on Lebanon for its unfaithfulness and lack of gratitude after decades of largesse – Robert Fisk/The Independent

March 4, 2016 12:01 pm
Fisk raises an interesting point at the end of his article- "Strange, isn’t it, that the name “Israel” hasn’t once popped up in this saga?" At least for now, the US has recognised the value of reintegrating Iran into the greater Middle East, as potential guarantor of security for western interests.  Such a long term outcome will be contingent on a new dispensation, whereby the conditions of this deputised status are not too onerous politically for the Tehran regime, and sufficiently rewarding for the country as a whole.  If this comes to pass, the role of Saudi Arabia becomes more openly defiant of the regional order, and it's that state which inherits the odium and perhaps even isolating measures once heaped on Iran.  As for Israel, it may be difficult for Washington to conceive a latter day purpose for what has become a nasty little Crusader redoubt. On the other hand, as the world's rising power in the business of exporting occupation- services which will enjoy reliable, escalating demand across the neo-liberal global system- Israel is striving to establish itself as an essential component of hegemonic capitalism's internal security dynamic.  Which raises an interesting set of contradictions- Israel is simultaneously becoming militarily redundant, useless in fact, in its traditional role as an agent for US policy aims, and yet vital to the development and coordination of technologies of repression so necessary to the maintenance of a global system otherwise prepared to fully abandon the troublesome Zionist entity.

Hezbollah Claims a ‘Nuclear Option’ in Tense Standoff with Israel – Neri Zilber/The Daily Beast

March 4, 2016 12:28 pm
The author refers to Hezbollah positions in Druze villages as "terror cells", without explaining this choice of terminology. In the next paragraph, alluding to Israeli assassinations of Hezbollah commanders, the word "terror" is curiously absent.  Indeed, nowhere in this informative account does the notion that Israel employs terror tactics receive even cursory attention, despite the wealth of detail supplied in the text (Dahiya doctrine, war plans for wholesale destruction, etc).  After all, where do the origins of the conflict lie, if not in Israel's assumption of the role of regional hegemon and principal terrorist state?

Elite liberal arts school won’t fire a professor who reportedly claimed ‘Zionist Jews’ were behind 9/11 – Abby Jackson/Business Insider

March 3, 2016 9:40 am
On the face of it- and I'm not familiar with the particulars of this case- Joy Karega's Facebook posts do not appear to constitute an academic matter.  It's not necessary to agree with her purported views to understand this.  Entries to Facebook don't normally have a bearing on one's qualifications at work.  If personal posts  on social media now are to be scrutinised and vetted by employers, millions of people will lose their jobs over unorthodox statements likely to be regarded as offensive by someone.   However, the issue does enter the academic zone when pressure is applied to remove such a person from their position.  At that point, yes, a question of academic freedom arises.  There's no reason to suppose that were Joy Karega to be deprived of her job over a series of Facebook posts, others would not follow.  For that reason alone, Oberlin is to be congratulated for showing a bit of backbone thus far.  Let's hope the administration doesn't cave in, as the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign did in the case of Steven Salaita.

Only Separation Can Lead to a Two-State Solution – Isaac Herzog/The New York Times

February 29, 2016 4:03 pm
"The Israeli military will remain the only army in the territories up to the Israel-Jordan border."  So much for Palestinian sovereignty. Herzog is merely proposing a more absolute form of apartheid.  A species of segregation is envisioned that makes the old Jim Crow look positively congenial.  Zionist domination will take on permanent, unilateral features in the entirety of historical Palestine.  There will be no mixing of populations, and Israel will continue to rule by military decree. Evidently the New York Times regards this prospect as a dazzling breakthrough in the geopolitical impasse.   Not surprisingly, no mention is made of international law.  

A Plea for Reason on Israel – Alon Ben-Meir/Consortiumnews

February 26, 2016 12:05 pm
The rhetorical strategy of hearkening back to a golden age of egalitarian Zionism (pre-emptive attacks, massacres, ethnic cleansing, racial subjugation- in a word, Nakba) still reports for duty.  But addressing a plea to Netanyahu for a reversal of the present course surely qualifies as delusional.  Letters of this type invariably raise the question, to whom is the author speaking. Noting that Alon Ben-Meir teaches at NYU, I'm reminded of a certain gag in Woody Allen's "Zelig".  The human chameleon claims in a session with his psychiatrist that he's a tenured professor.  When she tries to bring him back to reality, he interrupts anxiously, "I teach a course in masturbation at NYU.  And if I'm not there in ten minutes, they're going to start without me."

Rubio hits Trump on Israel – Eliza Collins/POLITICO

February 25, 2016 10:02 pm
I don't know why anyone is worried about this.  Trump supports Israel unreservedly.  He even did a tv spot for Netanyahu in the last election.  His whole life is an expression of contempt for the poor, for those without power, for people he considers representatives of an inferior race and culture.   The fantasy that Trump offers an alternative to mainstream lock-step support for Zionism is simply evidence of the desperation generated by the present grotesque election campaign.  Clinging to Donald Trump in the forlorn hope that somehow he'll ease up on the Palestinians is pathetic.  

Iran offers financial reward for families of potential Palestinian ‘intifada martyrs’ – Maayan Croisman/Jerusalem Post

February 25, 2016 1:06 pm
Of course families illegally dispossessed and rendered homeless by the Israelis should never be recompensed, not even through an act of mercy.  And those who grieve for their murdered children should do so in penury.  Because to do otherwise is merely to encourage survivors in the delusion that one day their resistance will bear fruit and they will be free.  And that, in the words of Prime Minister Netanyahu, constitutes "incitement".

Anti-Israel posters on London tube network are ‘unauthorised vandalism’ – Rosa Doherty/The Jewish Chronicle

February 23, 2016 10:17 am
Q. If the TfL were approached with the aim of posting these messages in an "authorised" fashion, what response would be forthcoming? And a second question:  if the Israeli Tourist Board wished to display aboard TfL trains flattering images of their country and which avoided all mention of the systematic oppression of Palestinians, would they be rejected?

‘Academic Boycott’ Is an Oxymoron – Monica Osborne/The Chronicle of Higher Education

February 21, 2016 8:31 am
Thanks, Taxi.  I really appreciate the clarification.  And best wishes for continued success with this site. I learn something every day here.
February 21, 2016 12:19 am
Taxi- I don't know whether this will reach you, but I'll give it a try.  A few hours ago I posted a comment on this article that promptly went nowhere.  It hasn't appeared.  Maybe there's a delay mechanism, or some other explanation, but when I clicked to post, the entire comment simply disappeared.  Normally it goes up for a thirty minute period for editing, correction, etc by the contributor.  This didn't happen.  The whole thing vanished.  It's happened on several occasions to me at this site.  Am I doing something wrong? The comment I composed took a fair amount of thought and a bit of research, and I'm wondering whether you can retrieve and post it.  Any help would be appreciated.
February 20, 2016 8:32 pm
I note that Monica Osborne teaches at Pepperdine University.  She disparages activists for BDS because they are insulated through privilege from the tactic they embrace.  That's an interesting criticism in light of her own front-line service... in Malibu.  But it also bears repeating that numerous academics in the US have been specifically targeted by Zionist "watch" groups simply for their espousal of the Palestinian cause. Some have lost their jobs.  Did she, for example, raise her voice for one scholar she opportunistically cites, Norman Finkelstein, when his academic career was destroyed by pro-Israel advocates and pressure groups?  Or on behalf of Steven Salaita? Among Palestinian opponents of BDS she lists Bassem Eid, who has a long record of human rights advocacy confronting both the crimes of Israel and the Palestinian Authority headed by Mahmoud Abbas (ironically, another of her anti-boycott spokesmen).  Of late Bassem Eid's focus has shifted heavily to the corrupt, violent rump statelet that is the PA.  He writes less of the overarching Israeli machinery that manages the PA as a junior partner in the oppression of Palestinians, and indeed, as his Wiki entry tells us- He presented his research on UNRWA to the British Parliament's Henry Jackson Society in December, 2015.  One final observation:  the author repeatedly employs a rhetorical device which falsely associates the reader and herself with the movement she most ardently opposes.  I refer to the frequent use of "us", "we" and "our", as in; "it is quite possible that we are concerned more with being part of a loud trend etc" and: "But we focus on Israel alone, and we applaud ourselves for our compassion and bravery." The entire essay is larded with this device, like a pasture in South Lebanon saturated with bomblets from the IDF. She deploys "we", "us" and "our" when she really means "you", her antagonists.  The dishonest use of language in this way is a hallmark of bad faith and entirely in line with the cause she seeks to defend.  Which, by the way, is not academic freedom, nor "complexity", but a brutal colonial regime imposing apartheid and guilty the most savage war crimes.

No, Israel Should Not Flatten Beirut – Belén Fernández/TeleSur

February 19, 2016 9:49 am
Nasrallah's statement that Haifa could go up in flames should Israel launch another war against Lebanon will have concentrated minds within the IDF.  And yes, Israeli threats are principally for domestic consumption at this stage.  The truth is, they can't afford to take on anyone except the hapless souls they've penned up in Gaza.  

Israel Kills Girls

February 22, 2016 9:55 am
Lest we forget, current Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked posted the following two years ago on Facebook: "Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there." The bombing and bulldozing of family homes is itself a symbolic form of femicide- destruction of the protective, nurturing core of life. Zionism's obsession with Palestinian wombs is well-attested, through speeches, tracts, laws, sermons, anti-miscegenation riots, and of course, ethnic cleansing.  In the Zionist imagination, Palestinian women and girls represent the most extreme form of biological peril.  A homicidal rage focused on human reproduction, concentrated moreover on the figure of motherhood, has only one name.  Genocide.