Friday, May 18, 2012

A Note to a Friend

Mike L.

We don't deal in absolute truths. There is no God's Eye View. But this does not mean that truth is entirely unknowable or unapproachable.

It seems to me that if we want to understand the problems of the Jewish people in the Middle East then we must acknowledge the history of Jewish people there. The fact is the history of the Jewish people in the Middle East was for 1,300 years second and third class citizenship under the boot of Arab-Muslim imperialism. In some places and times it was better and in other places and times it was worse, but there is no doubt that the Jews have been the victim of Arab-Muslim persecution for 1,300 years, followed by the current 100 years of war against us there.

One of the things that I want to see change is a coming to a recognition that we cannot really understand the Arab-Israel conflict without coming to grips with 1,400 years of Jewish persecution at the hands of Arab neighbors. To try to understand the I-P conflict without reference to 1,300 years of dhimmitude is like trying to understand the history of American Black people without reference to slavery.

Our friends on the progressive-left basically see Jews as the aggressors in this conflict whereas, in fact, we are the defenders. The Palestinians, of course, only separated themselves as a distinct ethnic group from the larger Arab world when the Jews regained sovereignty. The fact is that the Palestinians are the newest national group on the face of the planet and only came into being, as a people, in order to destroy Jewish sovereignty and self-defense.

Speaking strictly for myself, I see no reason to respect the notion of a newly emerged people whose purpose is to destroy our national sovereignty. In a sense, this is why we are failing. We are failing to free ourselves from Arab-Muslim persecution because we in the diaspora, and very many Jews in Israel, do not really seem to understand that we are in a war for survival.

That's a fact.

After 1,300 years of persecution the Arabs have launched a war against the Jews in the Middle East that has lasted now for almost 100 years.

We need to stop viewing this war through Arab eyes and resume viewing it through Jewish eyes.


  1. I started to respond to this via email and got distracted, so I'll just finish it here...

    We disagree somewhat on the importance of history, but I was with you until the end. Where you jumped into that imhotepian framing that just frustrates the hell out of me.

    "Speaking strictly for myself, I see no reason to respect the notion of a newly emerged people whose purpose is to destroy our national sovereignty."

    I don't buy that. I don't buy that the purpose of the existence of the Palestinian people is to destroy the national sovereignty of Israel. They exist because they exist. Your framing dismisses the millions of Palestinians who would be quite content to live in peace. They've failed at their attempts to do so. Miserably. For decades they had little or no voice in their leadership, and since they have had a voice, they've failed miserably to elect leadership that could either provide a path to peace, or even wanted a path to peace. I think that's true.

    I could go back and address the significance (or lack thereof) of the history of the region. I won't. Your framing of the Palestinians as a people whose sole purpose is to destroy Israel is too frustrating for me to continue.

    1. Of course they exist because they exist, but the issue is why do they exist.

      One can make a persuasive argument that the primary reason they exist is to destroy Israel. They are not afraid to say so, if only one is open to hear them. So many have been poisoned. A state is not the end goal, but a step toward the ultimate objective.

      Do you suggest that peace is what Palestinian leaders want? Do you suggest the intent to destroy Israel is not indoctrinated into the people, particularly children?

      I think many Palestinians wish to live in peace, but there are far too many that hate Jews. There were good Germans, too, but in the end, they didn’t make a damn’s worth of difference.

    2. I'm ready to listen. Roughly 4.5 million Palestinians now live within lands under Israeli control. What is the pursuasive argument that the primary reason they exist is to destroy Israel? That's what 4.5 million people wake up thinking every day? I think we both know that's a ridiculous assertion.

      Their leadership is a different story. I could quibble over whether it's the primary reason they exist. But their leadership, as a whole, certainly has that as their primary goal. I think there's a big difference between a primary goal and the reason they exist. Words matter. Framing it as "the reason they exist" is misguided, misleading and harmfully divisive.

    3. Stuart, all peoples, as groups and as individuals, have multiple reasons for existing. This is true of the Palestinians, just as it is true for everyone.

      However, there is no doubt, none, that one of the primary purposes of the Palestinian people is to destroy Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel.

      There's no two ways about it.

      It seems to me that we absolutely must slough off what we might call The Oslo Delusion. The Oslo Delusion is the idea that if only Israel would do this, that, or the other, the Palestinians will settle down into a peaceful relationship with their Jewish neighbors in a state of their own next door.

      That dream is done and it was the Palestinians, themselves, with a little help from Barack Obama, that killed it.

      For decades they had little or no voice in their leadership, and since they have had a voice, they've failed miserably to elect leadership that could either provide a path to peace...

      The reason that I disagree with this is because it assumes that Palestinian genocidal Jew hatred is merely an elite phenomenon in Palestinian society, whereas the opposite is actually true.

      The polls consistently show that huge numbers of regular Palestinians despise the Jewish state of Israel and do not necessarily have a problem with using violence against Jews in order drive Jewish people off of Jewish land.

      Everywhere that the Palestinians have sovereignty, Jewish people take their lives in their hands if they dare so much as to show up.

      I do not like it any better than you do, but we have to face the reality of the situation.

      Also, of course, from an historical perspective, the Palestinians as "Palestinians" came into being as a direct response in opposition to Jewish sovereignty.

      That's a fact, I'm afraid.

    4. Stuart,

      We have to be able to communicate without having to parse every idea. Too often the actual meaning is misconstrued, intentionally or otherwise, that we are saying ALL Palestinians are bad people. I suggest that this is misguided, misleading and harmfully divisive. It also obscures the reality of which side has engaged in aggression, a violation of international law.

      If the Palestinians unilaterally dropped their arms, there would be peace. What do you believe would occur if the Israelis dropped theirs?

    5. That was kind of my point. You framed the Palestinians as a "people whose purpose is to destroy our national sovereignty". Not one of many purposes. Not a piece of their identity. But rather as "the purpose". Should I have assumed you meant one of many? Unimportant. I didn't. That's not my problem in understanding what you mean. It's your problem in the way you convey your message.

      And we've talked about this before. Their existence, or at least their identification as a people separate and apart from their Arab neighbors, was also a result of actions of those Arab neighbors. Post 1949, they were not accepted into the social structures of the mostly new surrounding sovereignties. During Israel's formative years, this was at least as meaningful in the process of the Palestinians coalescing as a people as their hatred of Israel. Fewer than half of them never lived in what became Israel.

    6. Correction to that last sentence. Fewer than half of them ever lived in what became Israel.

    7. Oldschool, we do have to parse our words. We do have to be careful. If it is true that too often the actual meaning is misconstrued, intentionally or otherwise, then the burden is on the writer to correct that. Broad claims that Palestineans think this, or Jews think that, are indeed the genesis of bigotry. We assail those kinsd of claims all the time. "Jews control the media". Does that meant that every Jew is part of that control? Does that mean that every single media power is Jewish? Of course not, yet we don't allow those words to go unchallenged. This isn't meaningless minutiae.

      And it has nothing to do with which side is right or wrong. It has only to do with delivering a clear and concise message.

    8. Except that "Jews control the media" is actually false.
      To say that Palestinians want to destroy Israel is the opposite. It is proclaimed by the leaders in words and deeds, and public opinion seems to show that there is wide support for this proposition.

      Do you think that Palestinians would destroy Israel if they were unencumbered?

    9. The surreal aspect here, at least to me, is that this kind of nitpicking diverts from the substantive issue. It is clear what is being presented. To persist that the form overrides the substance, which it seems to me you are doing, is silly.

      Are you saying that unless it is ALL, then one may not make a general claim? Is it ever permissible to make a general claim? If so, when?

    10. Meanwhile, the rockets continue to rain on S'derot and Ashkelon.

    11. Fine, but because of these things that you consider nit picking, you make enemies with coalitions that share your goals. Words matter.

    12. What coalitions are you referring to?

    13. Volley, and every other pro-peace jew that considers themselves liberal. They agree with you on virtually every important issue, yet you drive them away with your fallacious framing. Except for me. I still like you. That will be your lifetime curse.

    14. Well, I appreciate that very much.

      I know that framing has been an issue for you, in regards my writing on the subject, for a long time.

      The truth of the matter is that I am very consciously reframing the discussion to, in my view, better reflect reality.

      The old framing no longer applies because it was grounded in Oslo and Oslo no longer applies. Thus I am willing to talk about, for example, Judea and Samaria rather than "the West Bank."

      I am willing to discuss the situation in which the Jews in the Middle East are the victims and their persecutors are Arabs and Muslims.

      Does this mean that all Arabs and Muslims are the persecutors of the Jews in the Middle East? Of course, not, but so what?

      I am not going to play politically correct games on this issue, Stu.

    15. All? Maybe not; but, ENOUGH.

    16. Enemies with coalitions? Because they choose to take things out of context to score points and allege Islamophobia? One might think from their intolerant approach that they are not interested in a coalition anyway. I get no real sense that they are interested.

    17. One more thing. I am liberal and so are many who understand the intentions of the Palestinians toward the Israelis and Jews, not those shared by all, but the many.

      I ask again: Are you saying that unless it is ALL, then one may not make a general claim? Is it ever permissible to make a general claim? If so, when?

      I also suggest that VB and some others that consider themselves liberal are quick to label, disparage and demonize, not just ideas, but the messengers that are critical of their dogma.

    18. Yup.

      Demonize. Demean. Disparage.

      And other things beginning with the letter "D."

      Stu, however, I can say with complete assurance usually doesn't go in for those D-word problems.

      Other than that what tends to bother me is the near total disinclination in actually dealing with the criticisms.

      So, for example, if I say something like, "the progressive-left, as a movement, has betrayed its Jewish constituency through the admission of anti-Semitic anti-Zionists into the larger coalition" I am always met with slack-jawed silence.

      Now, the above assertion may be true or it may be false or it may somewhat true, but with the brief exception of fizziks no progressive has yet to address the charge.

      It seems to be one of those many, many things on the left that it is verboten to discuss.

    19. I'm reasonably sure that I have addressed it at least once in the past. I know I did when we had coffee a couple months ago.

      I have to acknowledge here, that my exposure is pretty limited to the national political scene as reflected in the main stream media, dkos, and a few smaller community blogs, as well as regularly reading a handful of writers who may fit into the progressive tent. I've never been to any annual meetings. So this is no more than my perception. And I really don't have a real good handle on the difference between progressive and liberal or even far left.

      I think the "movement" you describe as the progressive left, is nothing more than series of loosely allied coalitions. No membership card required. No litmus test. There are pro-life progressives. There are progressives opposed to marriage equality. There are anti-Obama progressives, even some pro-Austrian economics cultists that would describe themselves as progressive. (I think an oxymoron, btw.)

      And within this broad group of coalitions, the pro-life coalition gets shouted down by the pro-choice crowd. The anti-marriage equality group gets shouted down by those in favor of marriage equailty. The anti-Obama anarchists get shouted down by the Obama-bots. And I/P sits alone in a corner room, were issues are fiercely debated by those interested, and those uninteresed either wish it would go away, or don't really give a shit. You and I, and most of the readers here, see the issues clearly, and those who have opposing views see the issues just as clearly. And everyone else occasionally take a peek and see the issues through either an opaque piece of glass, or never even looks, unless for some reason it makes front page news. And even then, the issues are so nuanced, require so much background knowledge that only the brave and foolish dip their toes into the water.

      And as it pertains specifically to dkos, and more specifically Markos, he is the fucking honey badger. He just doesn't give a shit. And he wishes it would go away. He's not pro Israel, he's not pro Palestinian. It's just an issue, that from his perspective, is one he would rather not see if he doesn't have to. And when it's forced on him, he takes a scorched earth attitude, doesn't even pretend to care about the issue, only the relative peace on his site. I know you've mentioned Huffpo, and I have no opinion. Read there only infrequently, and usually when linked there from elsewhere.

      You see anti-semitism and anti-zionism. I see it. Often clearly. But others, without our background, don't see it. I would submit that it is not unlike the dog whistles the gay community sees, that we may not always see. I remember the first time I learned that cocksucker is a term derrogatory to gays. Had never occurred to me.

      We are members of such a group. We see things that others might not see. We see the anti-semitism in "jews control the media". I was in a fierce discussion in the last year, with a Ron Paul supporter on a real estate blog. It included a dozen people, went on for days. And eventually he came out with the jews and the media thing. And I accused him of being a bigot. I sware he had no idea what I was talking about. And some of the others were similarly confused. What seems so obvious to us may as well be a foreign language to others.

      So there. No slack-jawed silence. No defense. It is what it is. I don't see it as betrayal. I see it as ignorant indifference. But without blame nor condemnation.


  2. "Israel is widely portrayed as the primary obstacle to peace in the Middle East, but a new poll reveals that Israelis may have very good reason for not trusting the intentions of their Palestinian peace partners.

    Conducted by American pollster Stanley Greenberg and the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, the survey found that 61 percent of Palestinians do not accept the "two states for two peoples" formula that has thus far driven the peace process.

    An even larger 66 percent said that while they would accept a "two-state solution" as a first step, they would want to eventually move on to replacing Israel with a single Palestinian state.

    A full 92 percent said that even in a two-state solution phase, Jerusalem can be the capital of "Palestine" only, regardless of whether or not Israel retains control over the Jewish-dominated western half of the city.

    Their intractable hard-line positions are the result of the fact that an overwhelming 72 percent of Palestinians reject any Jewish historical connection to Jerusalem and the land as a whole.

    When your opponent is painted as an occupying invader with no legitimate reason to be in the land, it is easy to support violence against him, which most Palestinians do. Over 62 percent of respondents said Palestinian terror groups should abduct more Israeli soldiers until their demands are met, and 53 percent said they are in favor of teaching songs about hating Jews in Palestinian schools.

    Note, that's not songs about hating Israel or the Zionists, but songs about hating the Jewish race of people. In other words, anti-Semitism is taught in Palestinian schools with parental approval and support. It is that kind of education that has kept a healthy 73 percent of Palestinian adults in agreement with the old Islamic teaching that one day every Jew must be hunted down and killed."

  3. Aghghghghg!!!!

    Oh my God!

    Look, it's puzz!

    Thanks for dropping in, lady.

    I cannot tell you what a pleasure it is for me to say hello to you here.

    And, I have to tell you, I still have mayonnaise issues. So, ya know, Laurie and I bought this cute little blue house in the Oakland hills and there is a Giant Burger drive-in restaurant right nearby.

    You can get a tasty burger for under $5 at the Giant Burger and Laurie and I dropped in last weekend, strictly for the fuck of it.

    And we sat there, enjoying our burgers, bitching about anti-Zionists, when I noticed that mayonnaise was dripping from mine despite the fact that I had instructed the Taliban-like clerk against mayo.

    It's as if they simply didn't care about my orders!

    I said, "NO MAYO!"


    You, my dear lady, are welcome to drop in anytime.


    {What a pleasure.}

  4. btw,

    am I to understand that you are in touch with the Madscientist?

    Give him my very best, if you please.

  5. You poor, poor thing. It's a plot by the mayo lobby I'm sure. I hope life is treating you and Laurie well, other than the obvious issues.

    Yes, I am in regular contact with mad. I...fell apart...a few months ago, and he helped put me back together. He's a gem. You should email or chat him sometime--I know he'd enjoy the contact. I will tell him you asked about him. I think he misses the interaction of blogging. Thanks to him, and another special person, I am in a pretty good place right now.

    Good enough to harass you, anyway, though as I told Stuart last night, I am allergic to I/P--it makes me break out in hives, so I won't be around much. Just wanted to say "hi" and let you know I miss you. :-)