Friday, May 18, 2012

Stuart Has Some Words

Mike L.

In a comment within an earlier post I noted the following:

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.

Stuart has been kind enough to take the time to address the issue and I very much hope that he will not mind if I front page his response:

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.


  1. I agree with much of what Stuart says that there's ignorance and indifference along with the adversarial political environment.

    I do not agree that the "movement" described as the progressive left is "nothing more" than series of "loosely allied" coalitions.

    Is the conservative movement any different?

    I believe that coalitions come in all shapes and sizes, up to and including labor unions, political parties, intergovernmental units, and states, that also require much integration.

    I look at Europe and the environment at American universities and see the overall influence of the left, and what it stands for in the international realm. Overall, the USA is not there yet, but similarities are evident that it's taking the same approach.

    All the while, recognized or not, threats to liberal society increases. Progressives, who want a new, just society of humankind, enable the process or remain silent in fear.

    As a side note, it's nice to be able to discuss this stuff without the unnecessary invective.

  2. I think I would argue that yes, the conservative movement is at least slightly different. It goes back to Will Rogers..."I'm not a member of any organized political party, I'm a Democrat!". I don't think the left side of the political spectrum has anywhere near the cohesiveness of the right.

    That said...I have given some thought to why it seems that the knee-jerk reaction of those on the left is at least slightly more likely to be more supportive of the Palestinian arguments versus the Israeli arguments.

    Purely speculation. I know, without reservation, that many on the right will be opposed to any policy promoted by the current administration. They will find absurd excuses. It certainly happens on the left also. I would like to think at a lower frequency, but no doubt with similar voracity and stupidity. My thought is that because virtually all Arab and Muslim causes are rejected by the right, that often translates into support for Israel. So if the right supports Israel, therefore the unthinking orthodox left position must be reject to Israel. This may be total bullshit, though I have seen at least a few specific people, with no background on ME issues, adopt the Palestinian cause as their own for this very reason. (At least one of them, Michael knows very well.)

    And if this thesis is accurate, it may explain the popularity of the Palestinian cause on college campuses.

    Make any sense at all?

    And no, I don't really have a solution, but I'm pretty sure that more vitriolic rhetoric isn't it.

  3. It makes sense. I agree that many support these causes as you say without much understanding of the full story, and that there is far too much rejectionism solely due to partisanship. It is wrong to me.

    From what I am discovering, the Palestinian cause is popular at the university because it is the narrative that is taught while pro-Israel proponents are shunned and stigmatized. The Israeli narrative was once included, but that changed after 1967 for a variety of reasons having to do with money, resources, power and geopolitics.

    Will Rogers was talking about Democrats and Republicans in another age. Coalitions today come in a myriad of forms, of which that is only one version. I think this is more a right versus left thing, or even a left versus liberal. There is no question that Democrats are more diverse a political party. however.

    1. I think I would at least mildly disagree on the college campus phenomena. It's certainly possible, but I'm quite sure that both of my kids, who just recently graduated from college, were never taught anything about the conflict. It wasn't touched in any of their curriculum. If it had been, I'm sure I would have heard about it. That's not to say that it isn't taught, I just suspect that it's not part of most college students required course study. I guess it's possible that the few students who do get it, are those that are leading the charge on the campuses. In any case, it does seem that the Palestinian narrative has greater support than the Israeli narrative.

      I have to add here, I'm uncomfortable with those terms. There's an implication, in the way I used them, that both are equally valid. In theory, that should be true. In practice, I don't think it is. In part because of superior messaging methods. As a friend pointed out to me last night, the underdog factor is a key part of that messaging. The Palestinian story is framed as the that of the underdog, and underdogs invariably get support on college campuses. (true? false?, I think true.) That underdog status is intuitively accurate, irrespective of the peripheral issues that make it less than the full story.

    2. I also have kids in and done with college. The one that pursued international studies confirmed what the climate is like in conversations, not to mention my own recent experience in academia.

      I know kids are idealistic and root for the little guy, especially during college. What I am talking about is so much more. It goes to the breakdown of the system itself, and the effect of what it produces. Some say that assaults on Jewish nationalism are embedded in the ideology of the left. There is such an imbalance that students are being deprived the opportunity to develop thinking skills and learn. I am not saying this is the case in math and science, but it is predominant in the arts and social sciences.

      Here are a couple of links, if you are interested. There is much more that details the situation of the imbalanced environment that fosters the Palestinian narrative and creates a chilling climate for those that are pro-Israel.,7340,L-4225175,00.html

  4. I don't get this whole progressive/left/liberal/whatever Zionist thing and for me it has come as a surprize that, whatever it is, apparently it has to be taken seriously.

    What do they want Israel to do? What do they expect the Diaspora to do?

    Let me explain. I was born in the year 1954 of Australian born parents and I guess we are all the products of our age and place. For me Zionism was as natural as breathing. It still is. I knew about antisemitism from an early age of course. It was impossible not to in regional Queensland where I grew up (think "Driving Miss Daisy") but I honestly did not know there was even such a thing as an anti-Zionist Jew until I read about it in one of Chaim Potok's beautiful novels in my late teens.

    Anti-Zionist Jews I now understand. They are arseholes. There have always been them. I get that. But J-Street style Zionists?

    If they stand for anything at all it must be that Israel and the Jews are at least in part to blame for the hatred directed at them and that they should be doing something to stop it. We should be looking within for the source of this hatred from outside. As if we haven't done enough of that. It is up to us to solve the nasty and dangerous little war against us and Israel. We should be doing ... something ...


    Negotiate? Come on .. try to be a little honest. Jews have been trying that for as long as there has been Zionism. Compromise? Sure. Been there, done that. Agree to another Muslim state on the borders of Israel and they can call it what they like (if, seriously, that is what they want)? Now that's the one that really disgusts me. How many bloody times do you have to say "yes"?

    What do they want Israel to do in the face of all this genocidal madness? No new settlements? That's been policy for over twenty years. Freeze the settlements? That's been tried. It didn't work and besides surely the issue is who should have sovereignty over the settlements, and which ones, in any event. That the settlements are the problem is a copout lie for people with another agenda and there is no excuse by now not to know that.

    What else? Stop "Judaising" Jerusalem? Don't make me sick.

    I will be impressed when the "progressive/liberal/whatever" left starts to put a fraction of the pressure on the Palestinian side to accept a genuine two state solution that they do on Israel to make further concessions. You never hear this from them. Why do they refuse to pick up the two state solution and make peace? Why aren't the left demanding to know this from their Palestinian "friends"? Why aren't they even asking the question?

    This is the unspoken horror at the core of all this. They do not want a Jewish state and they want it defenceless and torn down. They do not want Jews. They don't care about a Palestinian state. They don't care about Palestinians. If they did they wouldn't be keeping so many of them on display in cages like animals in zoos generation after generation and seemingly for generations to come.

    This is not about "Palestine". It hasn't been since 1948. It is about something else entirely and sooner or later left Zionists must admit that.

  5. Jewish people are psychologically wounded. Jewish people are like an abused, psychologically wounded, child. An abused, psychologically wounded, child needs a true friend who will tell him the truth that he is not bad and that it's not his fault that he is abused and that it's wrong that he is abused.

    A true friend

    Apes and Pigs, by Omar Dakhane

    "A few months ago, I created a Facebook page called “Arabs against Anti-Semitism,” a page dedicated to fighting hatred and anti-Semitism in the Arab world, two things that are wide spread in Arab societies. Of course when I say that, I don’t mean that all Arabs are haters and anti-Semites, but unfortunately the ideas of hate and racism are well accepted in Arab societies and hearing anti-Semitic and hateful statements is a regular thing around here. ..."

    “Israel did it!”, by Omar Dakhane

    "This is the quickest and easiest answer you will always get in the Arab world when asking the reason any problem happens to them. Who created poverty in the Arab world? Israel. Who caused diseases to spread in the Arab world? Israel. Who created natural disasters in the Arab world? Well, it’s nature but Israel certainly had something to do with it.

    "By blaming Israel for everything wrong, the Arabs feel more relaxed about their lives, since it’s not their problem anymore and they don’t have to do anything about it, except blame Israel for “causing” it. ..."

    A dangerous alliance: Faux liberals and Islamists, by Omar Dakhane

    "The extreme left in the West and Israel seem to have become the official representatives and mouthpieces for Islamic extremists, despite their beliefs that they are the first defenders of human rights. Ironically, these are the same human rights that those Islamic extremists are trying to rob from all of humanity, including their fellow Muslims and including their far-left supporters. This position of the far-left to defend Islamic extremists demonstrates a cognitive dissonance of an unbridled magnitude. ..."

    Internet Lies, by Omar Dakhane

    "...Seventh Image: This picture is being shared all over Facebook and social media sites as a picture of a Palestinian prisoner on a hunger strike in the Israeli prisons. But the fact is that this person is a Moroccan prisoner named 'Azzedine ِal-Rouissi'. It’s strange how no one cares when pictures like this emerge from Arab countries, but when it’s falsely associated with the Palestinians, suddenly everyone cares. Isn’t the Moroccan citizen a human too, or does helping Moroccan victims not as profitable as supporting the other 'cause'? ..."

    Lie or Die

    "Last October I published a post on the importance of exposing lies in the Arab world via the internet. Most of it was images that were distorted through cropping or misleading or false description intended to fool the Arab reader and to spread more hatred and resentment. Hatred and bigotry already fill Arab societies, and we certainly don’t need more. ..."

  6. (from continued)

    "What changed? In Waterstones one day I found myself in the Israel and Palestine section. To this day I don't know why I actually pulled it off the shelf, but I picked up a copy of Alan Dershowitz's The Case for Israel.

    "In my world view the Jews and the Americans* controlled the media, so after a brief look at the back, I scoffed thinking "vile Zionist propaganda".

    "But I decided to buy it, eagerly awaiting the chance to deconstruct it so I could show why Israel had no case and claim my findings as a personal victory for the Palestinian cause.

    "As I read Dershowitz's systematic deconstruction of the lies I had been told, I felt a real crisis of conscience. I couldn't disprove his arguments or find facts to respond to them with. I didn't know what to believe. I'd blindly followed for so long, yet here I was questioning whether I had been wrong?

    "I decided to visit Israel to find the truth. I was confronted by synagogues, mosques and churches, by Jews and Arabs living together, by minorities playing huge parts in all areas of Israeli life, from the military to the judiciary. It was shocking and eye-opening. This wasn't the evil Zionist Israel that I had been told about.

    "After much soul searching, I knew what I had once believed was wrong. I had to stand with Israel, with this tiny nation, free, democratic, making huge strides in medicine, research and development, yet the victim of the same lies and hatred that nearly consumed me.

    "As an outsider, I ask why so many in the Jewish community are closing their eyes to the constant stream of anti-Israel hated spewed out from all facets of British society.

    "And while pro-Palestinian organisations burn Israeli flags, urge boycotts of Israel and protest against appearances by Israeli politicians or artists, UJS's response is shameful. It is not the time for UJS or any other group to engage in hollow flag-waving to show their "progressiveness". Let Israel's democratic history speak for itself.

    "Instead of meekly trying to avoid coming across as too pro-Israeli or too Zionist, it is time to make the facts known, to defend Israel against delegitimisation. It is time to stem the tide of Israel bashing before it becomes even more mainstream and consumes even more people like me."

  7. Note: * About the "Jewish Lobby"/"Israel Lobby" libel:

    Johann von Leers and Walt/Mearsheimer, by Clemens Heni

    "Most people think that the book “Israel Lobby” by Stephen Walt and John J. Mearsheimer was published in 2007 – at the same time in the US and in Germany, by the way. Well, the first edition of that book was rather published in 1940 – by leading National Socialist anti-Semitic publicist Prof. Dr. Johann von Leers. Von Leers published “Kräfte hinter Roosevelt” (“Forces behind Roosevelt”) in Berlin in 1940. ..."

    Antisemitism in America - Yale Kills YIISA, by Clemens Heni

    "... 'Yale University last week killed the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism — the only program of its kind in the country, an academically stellar one-stop anti-Semitism research shop. Worse, it almost certainly did so because YIISA refused to ignore the most virulent, genocidal and common form of Jew-hatred today: Muslim anti-Semitism.'

    "If one is analyzing the most dangerous form of contemporary antisemitism, you are censored, defamed, bullied, and finally thrown out from campus: highlighting Muslim and Arab antisemitism is taboo.

    "In that sense, American academe is like its counterpart in Europe.

    "Analyzing liberal and left hypocrisy, YIISA Associate Professor Neil Kressel, already showed in 1992 that progressives aim at antisemites as long as they are right-wing or Nazis. Antisemitism from the Third World or from minority groups, including the left, have never been a topic for mainstream scholars and journalists in the US. Contrary to fantasies about a powerful 'Israel-Lobby' in the US, antisemitism is very strong among the elites in America. The recent Yale decision is proof for this. ..."

    The Arab Lobby, by Lee Smith

    "... Mitchell Bard's [book] describes how this Arab lobby — from U.S. foreign service officers, oil companies, Christian anti-Zionists, and Ivy League universities to Gulf Arab states, Arab-American activists and Islamist ideologues — exercises its influence in U.S. politics. ..."

    "... AIPAC is a grassroots organization funded by U.S. citizens that represents the broad sentiment of Christians and Jews who are interested in one issue — protecting and promoting the [supposed] U.S.-Israel relationship. The Arab lobby, by comparison, has little organic U.S. backing and divides its efforts between two causes — oil and Palestine. ..."

    "... The real power [of the Arab lobby] is in the hands of the Arab lobby's oil sector, the role of which is to keep the Arab oil producers happy by ensuring that Americans stay addicted to oil, that the defense industry keeps its production lines open, and that the image of Arab states stays polished..."

  8. Anti-Semitism 2.0, by Mudar Zahran

    "The concept of the "evil Jew" has made a well-disguised comeback: Criticizing Israel and Zionists, is now deemed a legitimate option to cursing Jews and Judaism. Not only is it open, socially acceptable and legal, but it can actually bring prosperity and popularity. This new form of anti-Semitism 2.0 is well-covered-up, harder to trace and poses a much deeper danger to the modern way of life of the civilized world than the earlier crude form of it, as it slowly and gradually works on delegitimizing Jews to the point where it eventually becomes acceptable to target Jews, first verbally, then physically -- all done in a cosmopolitan style where the anti-Semites are well-groomed speakers and headline writers in jackets and ties; and not just Arab, but American and European, from "sanitized" news coverage of the most bloodthirsty radicals, to charges against Israel in which facts are distorted, selectively omitted or simply untrue, as in former President Jimmy Carter's book on Israel. ..."

  9. Hitler's Legacy: Islamic antisemitism and the impact of the Muslim Brotherhood, by Matthias Küntzel

    Iranian Antisemitism: Stepchild of German National Socialism, by Matthias Küntzel

    Who is Who in German trade with Iran?, by Matthias Küntzel

    Ahmadinejad's Bank, by Mathias Küntzel; "Germany has to make up its mind about calling a halt to the activties of Hamburg-based EIH bank"

  10. The Secret War Against the Jews: How Western Espionage Betrayed The Jewish People, by John Loftus and Mark Aarons; "The authors demonstrate that numerous Western countries, especially the United States and Great Britain, have conducted repeated and willful spying missions on Palestine and later Israel over many decades. While on the surface these two countries and others profess to be ardent allies of Israel, they work, in fact, through their intelligence services to betray Israel's secrets to the Arabs. Their motive: oil and multinational profits, which must be attained at any price through international covert policies."

    America's Nazi Secret: An Insider's History, by John Loftus

    John Loftus was a U.S. Justice Department federal prosecutor who had above Top Secret security clearance in the U.S. government.