Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Demise of "The Progressive Zionist"

Mike L.

One of the more pro-Obama Jewish blogs seems to have taken a nose-dive.

Jonathan Segall's The Progressive-Zionist has not published a word in about ten weeks.

After so many weeks of zero activity I would have to think that any blog is basically toast.  In the case of Segall, it's something of a shame.  This is an American Jew who has a reasonably deep understanding of the Jewish political scene, including the Israeli political scene, but who continually launched himself into ugly personal battles with almost anyone who disagreed with him.

The reason for that is because the Arab-Israel conflict is so vital to the Jewish people that it often seems that those who disagree are not just wrong, but enemies.  And the reason for that, of course, is because the stakes are so high and our numbers are so small.  We are not playing for a few bucks in Texas Hold 'Em, but for the well-being and survival of our friends and our families and our relatives in the Jewish State of Israel.

Certainly Jon spit a lot of hatred toward me, and in fact sought to defame me to others on-line and off because I sincerely disagreed with him about the Obama administration, which he supports and I do not, and because I became vocally disenchanted with the progressive-left, including the Jewish left.

However, no matter how much he bent over backwards in order to be fair to anti-Semitic anti-Zionists and Israel Haters within the progressive-left, they still dragged the guy's name through the mud.

I saw it, myself.  I am very familiar with Segall's efforts within places like Daily Kos and I can tell you that there were few Jewish people within progressive venues more willing to give Arab voices more respect and consideration than Jon Segall - at least, at first.

It did him no good, of course.

I imagine that his voice is still out there somewhere, however.

My views have evolved since we first met.  My hope is that his have, as well.

24 comments:

  1. Mike... there was just no point anymore. I disagree completely with your perspective and I disagree with the anti-Zionist perspective. But both sides dominate the discussion. One seemingly cannot embrace a middle ground without some troll charging in and destroying the discussion.

    Also, because of the "echo chamber" effect - no one really reads anything outside of their P.O.V. to get the truth anymore. Instead it is: "Look at this columnist, they said this so they must be right". People use biased sources like Brietbart, NewsMax, Glenn Greenwald etc. as authoritative voices rather than reading a news story and coming up with their own opinion.

    SO, the same people were reading PZ which had about a few thousand hits per month and really that was it. It was not an effective vehicle for making points. I still will occasionally blog at Times of Israel - here is my latest http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/when-anti-semites-and-self-haters-strike-back/

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    1. Oh to further elaborate... As sick as I was of the anti-Zionists (who really are mostly anti-Semites), they were not the ones who got to me the most. I expected that kind of crap from them. Are they infecting the Left like the parasites they are? Absolutely. Are they dominating the Democratic party or even influencing the Dems? Not in any way shape or form.

      No, what got me where the Rightists who seem to be dominating our side of the argument (at least on-line, thank G-d that doesn't seem to be the case in real life). I belonged to some Pro-Israel groups on Facebook but all they did was simply feature a bunch of yayhoos who repeated talking points from the ghost of Meir Kahane combined with daily nonsense tossed in from the ECI or RJC. So I bailed. Why engage in lying just because it's my side?

      Frankly the lack of any sense of consistent moral values really bothered me. We complain about our rights but when it comes to trampling the rights of others... Hey no problem - anything we do is justified because of... well... history. I simply don't accept that. I mean you either believe in Democracy or you don't. Really pretty simple.

      It just all is pointless when one becomes like their enemies even if only to a lesser degree. What the hell is the difference at that point? I don't need to make my enemy into some kind of demon for me to make my case. I don't need to point to the myriad of ways that Arab culture expresses and embraces anti-Semitism. I already know that and really... so do most others outside of the really small minority of useless idiots that occupy both the Hard Left (DKos, FDL, parts of HuffPo) and the Libertarian Hard Right (DKos, FDL, parts of HuffPo, Pat Buchanan, etc.). We all know that most of the Arab Polity wants to destroy Israel. We knew it before the Right Wing / Left Wing intertoobz came to become a vehicle for people to screech at us endlessly telling us what bad people the other side has.

      I guess in the end, I would say that I got tired of the lies and ridiculous posturing from both sides. The Reality of things is often less interesting but infinitely more important. Want an example:

      Let's take your claim that the Dems. booed over the J'Slem vote. First of all that is simply not true. The "booing" was over the obvious lack of democratic process that was observed. IF you watch the whole thing, that is pretty obvious. So what happened in reality? Well, a small group of activists in the platform committee sabotaged things and decided to up the ante on the J'slem question. President Obama seeing what a disaster that could have been sent Anthony Villaragosa in to shut that down. Villaragosa called for a voice tally and when the tally went against the President, he simply overrode the vote (acting on direct orders from President Obama to make sure that the anti-Israel activists DID NOT get their way). The booing happened when Villaragosa pushed it anyway. Notice that the booing did not happen until after it was obvious that a 2/3rds majority DID NOT hold sway.

      The fact of the matter is that the President was on our side here. HE was the one that pushed it through despite what the activists tried. YET... even in your site this is not acknowledged despite overwhelming evidence to support my case.

      So really, if this is what we are reduced to, having to spread half truths to support our side... why bother?

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    2. It is important not to label people that differ in their views deranged, under a syndrome or some other similar pejorative, and then expect, or even demand, that they engage in discourse.

      And to not see everything in black and white, be it Democratic-Republican, right-left, pro-Obama-anti-Obama, pro-Zionist-anti-Zionist BEFORE addressing the substance of one's words.

      That is the main thing I would offer to anyone who reads this.

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    3. Jon,

      I appreciate your remarks and despite our disagreements I do not hold you in disregard.

      You say this, however:

      "I disagree completely with your perspective and I disagree with the anti-Zionist perspective."

      That is fair enough, although I wonder, specifically, what significant part of my perspective that you disagree with?

      As someone who comes out of the Jewish left, I have criticisms of the Jewish left.

      I have those criticisms embedded onto the upper-right side of this screen.

      The very first criticism is the failure of the Jewish left to honestly and seriously confront fact of political Islam.

      This is not about you, specifically, so I do not want you to take it personally, but there is little question that the progressive-left, including the Jewish left, cannot seem to bring itself itself to stand up for its own values by standing against the most heinously conservative movement in the world today, which is radical Islam.

      Y'know, I was never one to scream my head off about this movement and after 9/11 I was part of the 10 percent of Americans who still did not favor GWB. But this does not change the fact that it's a real movement that oppresses women, kills Gay people outright, and calls for the genocide of the Jews.

      What I fail to understand, ultimately, is why so few Jewish liberals can bring themselves to oppose it.

      I am a Jewish liberal and I am willing to stand up proudly in opposition to political Islam because, as a movement, it represents everything that we BOTH oppose.

      So, why cannot we stand together in opposition to this violent and racist and fascistic movement that is rising within the Middle East?

      Ultimately, that is the main thing that I do not understand.

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    4. So Mike... thanks for your civil note.

      That said, I think you and I are pretty far apart on how we see this conflict and I disagree with almost all of your assumptions regarding the Jewish, and Zionist Left. Honestly, I don't want to fight about things so I will simply say that in my opinion I can't really agree with you with regards to your framing of the conflict. Anyway, I think it is best that we leave it at that.

      But, moreover because of that framing I don't believe we can stand together in our opposition to Political Islam. Fundamentally, I simply don't accept your view of the conflict and while I would agree with you that some forms of Political Islam that are both violent and racist, I think there are varying degrees and reasons just WHY Political Islam is the force that it is. This is not to excuse the actions (with regards to the Jewish people and people in general) of Political Islam in any way, it is simply to point out the world and political ideologies are far more complex than "Islam Bad" (which is the impression you leave me with based on your writing).

      So sure, for example, I can agree that the ravings of MB Preachers in Egypt are hateful and vile, but to say that they are the methodology to which the MB ruled Egypt is simply not the case. That said, do I think that Morsi was a good guy or still should be in power? Not at all... I think the military did what had to be done, but, there is a price to that and to gloss over that price is not doing justice to how we come up with solutions to the issue.

      So Mike.. while you and I may agree about an end result in that we both care and want a strong Israel that is secure, I don't think we agree on really anything else and in my opinion I can't stand with you because I can't accept your terminology and methodology towards exploring the conflict. I don't think that it serves the cause of supporting Israel in a positive or meaningful way.

      So with that... I will say to you in honor of Yom HaKippurim - G'Mar Hatimah Tova and wish you and Laurie a peaceful observance of this highest of holy days.

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    5. You say:

      I simply don't accept your view of the conflict and while I would agree with you that some forms of Political Islam that are both violent and racist, I think there are varying degrees and reasons just WHY Political Islam is the force that it is.

      If "some forms of Political Islam that are both violent and racist," could you point to the forms that are not?

      Is WHY really important when determining whether or not Political Islam IS violent and racist?

      How did Morsi not try to adopt the hateful and vile preachings of the MB? Isn't that exactly why there was a coup, because he did?

      For all the trashing of Christians by some, it is the prism of persecution they face at the hands of Muslims that shows, to me, the most accurate face, what is a genocide. Luckily, except for Israel, Jews have already fled that persecution. Yet, I wonder why so many Western Christians, the "liberals," seem to care less about the plight of their brethren wordlwide.

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    6. (PART ONE) oldschool... If you can't see how Morsi did not adopt the full preaching of the MB to his governance then I would suggest you look at an actual record of his time in office. Again, let me stress that I am not supporting Morsi in any way, shape, or form as I stated above. BUT I believe there are facts that should be observed.

      In that time, despite the commentary from the Right, he did not move to abrogate the Egypt-Israel Peace treaty and in fact moved to make sure that Egypt was in accordance with it's terms. When Egyptian forces were operating in the Sinai against al-Qaeda there, that was done with full knowledge and cooperation of the Israelis. His rhetoric around the peace treaty did not match his actions.

      Further, while Morsi moved to implement stricter forms of Sharia Law on Egypt he did not go as far as his radical allies would have liked. BUT again, this is not about supporting Morsi - I am not doing that.

      Now, one can argue accurately that Morsi only did this because his aid from the West and its allies was predicated on his "good behavior" and I might agree with you. That said, his actions don't indicate the same line that MB Preachers stressed.

      As for the Coup... the Tamarrud did stress that they did not want a fundamentalist government, but, that was not the only thing. The military wanted a change because their business interests were being threatened by Morsi's incompetence in managing the Egyptian Economy.

      Remember, Egypt is a very poor, and has a fairly uneducated polity. Some preacher blowing off steam and screaming hateful and ignorant rhetoric serves a political purpose particularly when the country's economy was being completely mis-managed. SO... some guy gets up and screams about J'slem and Al-Aqsa and the crowd goes home thinking they are part of some big struggle and they don't think about how crappy their lives are. Meanwhile, in the "real world" Egypt is doing nothing regarding actually living up to those pronouncements and in fact had coordinated with the Israelis on a number of occasions to act against militant attacks. Ok... enough on that.

      You ask:

      If "some forms of Political Islam that are both violent and racist," could you point to the forms that are not?

      While of course every government (including the U.S. and Israel) perpetrate violence and some racism (please don't tell me that there is no racism in the Israeli or American Governments or National institutions), the level of racism and violence in these movements are not what defines them. An Islamic Government in Qatar may have racist and violent elements but that is not what is their central principle. Jordan may have laws based on Sharia but the nation is not defined by their racism and violence. Even the Iranian Government is not based on those things (as horrible as they are).

      Political Islam takes numerous forms and understanding those forms help us with finding solutions to the problems that political Islam presents. So in answer to your question: Is WHY really important when determining whether or not Political Islam IS violent and racist? the answer is YES, "Why" is really important. How we as Americans create our foreign policy should include the "Why's" of political Islam in our calculus if for no other reason than to come up with more efficient methods of dealing with these nations.

      As for Christians... I can't tell you why some people who are their brethren don't care, I am not Christian. You would have to ask them.

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    7. (PART TWO) IF you want to know why "Hard Leftists" don't care about the rights of the Christian minority... that is pretty simple. The Hard Leftists (and notice I do not use the term "Liberals" here) don't care because they hate anything that has to do with West and to them the MB Government, reactionary as it was, represented their hope that a counter to American influence could be created.

      Now if you ask about "Liberals" and their acceptance of the Morsi Government, the thing is that it is not based on their love for what he was doing. That "acceptance" (which is not the same as support for or even like) is based around the fact that this is the government the majority of Egyptians chose. Morsi won 52% of the vote but the parliamentary vote went much more heavily towards the MB and the Salafist candidates. So, people supported the democratic process NOT necessarily the outcome. That I believe is an important distinction to make.


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    8. Jon,

      I do appreciate your considered response, although it puzzles me.

      You write:

      "I can't really agree with you with regards to your framing of the conflict."

      My framing of the conflict, as I just wrote about, is to expand that frame and to look at it from a wider angle and longer history.

      My frame is the Middle East, as a whole, and the time period is that of 7th century until today.

      Why in this world would you have a problem with bringing the larger Arab world, and the long Jewish persecution on Jewish land, into the conversation?

      You write:

      "it is simply to point out the world and political ideologies are far more complex than "Islam Bad" (which is the impression you leave me with based on your writing)."

      I have never written anything that can simply be misinterpreted as "Islam bad."

      The point is that just as in the US we would never want Christianity to replace the constitution, so we do not want to see political Islam take over the reigns of government precisely because that political movement is fascistic and opposes the rights of women, Gay people, Jews, and non-Muslims.

      In my view, the failure of the progressive-left to stand up against political Islam is probably the great failing of this political generation. It would be something akin to failing to stand up against 19th century slavery, or Jim Crow, or the Klan, or the Nazis.

      It is a form moral cowardice and when I say that, I do not mean it as an indictment against you, personally, but against the movement that you represent and that I was once a member of.

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    9. The ONLY reason Morsi did not fully implement the MB strategy is because he could only do so much in the time he was there. His intent was very clear. Islam teaches that one in a weak position should not act as if in a superior position. He was just following this doctrine, though it is acknowledged that it's never so simple when there are economic and strategic factors that interfere with the desired goal.

      I do not understand your interpretation of Politcal Islam. I see it as the doctrine set forth by the MB, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Taliban, al-Qaeda, Iran, and all their allies in the West. As for the places you specified, the reality becomes clear when needs be. Jordan's time has not come but approaches. How many Palestinians did it kill in one month in Black September? Qatar merely funds the racism and violence, but is so rich and small enough to wall itself off. If you think that Iran's society is not based on violence and racism, then why does it foment so much turmoil in the region and have so little freedom internally?

      In other words, I don't think you have explained this "why" that you say must be understood, and especially not in the places where it "is" occurring, where non-Muslims live amid oppression, racism and violence as seen in episodes every day. Yet when people raise that this is going on, they are labeled as the haters by many who claim to be morally superior.

      As for "liberals," I need little explanation of how they think. In so many ways it is illiberal. Jews and mainline Christians among them think much the same. It is not solely related to Egyptian Copts, but global. Western Christians are not persecuted, even as this animus toward them is conflated and indifference exhibited to non-Western Christians and even rage against Jews and Israel. Talk about a syndrome!

      Finally, one should understand that an election is far from what matters to make a democracy, and be cautious to use that argument as justification against objections that non-democratic forces have abused the democratic process and are intent on destroying the democracy.

      People would be better served to widen their circles of information and seek out the views of those they now demonize. They could learn a lot, not only about the nature of the opponent, but also if there is legitimacy to be found therein.

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    10. In my view, the failure of the progressive-left to stand up against political Islam is probably the great failing of this political generation. It would be something akin to failing to stand up against 19th century slavery, or Jim Crow, or the Klan, or the Nazis.

      Agree with this. Just wish that so many would not then act as if morally superior, as if they care more than people who do stand up.

      In Europe there are signs of push back against situations created by their own doings, based on an ideological yen to change the fabric of the societies, only to discover the overaggressive negative intentions of political Islam in terms of democracy and human rights.

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    11. I never said or implied these groups or states were the same.

      They are much the same, however, with the approach to racism and violence, which was what was being discussed as it relates to political Islam.

      Morocco and Tunisia may have less violence, for now, but the political Islamists therein are no less violent and racist in their desires. Are you confident that these states that practice this other version of political Islam you mentioned will become pluralistic democracies, and that minorities within these states will not face more than their share of violence and racism?

      Can you cite one instance of where political Islam, even as you describe it, when adopted, has led to more human and civil rights?

      This notion of "defining factors of their national make-up" is your creation, and I really do not understand the distinction. You seem not to dispute that violence and racism ARE components of political Islam, but you seem unwilling to say WHY, even as you say WHY is what must be understood.

      I AM a liberal and do not really need a lesson of what constitutes liberalism, thank you. I am fully capable of being a liberal and pointing out behavior that "liberals" engage in which is illiberal. To me, progressivism has many elements that stray from liberalism.

      There is no source of information that does not include a slant. Half-truths are no less evident in mainstream and liberal sources than in others. For example, you like MSNBC, which is more biased in its presentation than FOX. So why do you go there? To dismiss right wing journalism outright means to miss some of the best analysis in the field because so much of the information has been deemed taboo by people who decide based on what they are told by their "experts."

      One need not agree with what one reads, but one learns by being exposed to unvarnished, even if slanted arguments. In other words, better to see what a right winger says than to see what a left winger will tell you it says. I have never understood why people categorically reject the substance of an argument solely because it comes from one direction or another. To me that results is less knowledge of the subject matter.

      Finally, when it comes to this site, I could not help but chuckle at this remark:

      BUT to most everyone else who reads your blog... that is the impression that they walk away with.

      This assertion is without any foundation whatsoever, and I hope you are able to see and acknowledge this fact.

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    12. I can point you out to plenty of analysis that, once one escapes the progressive echo chamber, is actually quite worthwhile, and often shoots gaping holes in the progressive narrative that too often relies on theories that prove unrealistic when involving human behavior.

      Unless one can escape this insularity, one cannot see that, like the pro-Palestinian narrative, the progressive, pro-Obama narrative is no less skewed than the conservative, anti-Obama narrative. As an MSNBC shows, it's even moreso, and it cynically injects race when it can to demonize others far too often.

      Not knowing the source before reading an essay might be eye awakening. If the source outweighs the information offered, however, there will be much less light. Just because one chooses not to understand a legitimate position does not necessarily make that position wrong, inaccurate, or not worthy of consideration.

      There is no way to actually know something by knowing one side only. This is why I read progressive, liberal and conservative blogs, among other things. So I wonder, if you do not read what conservatives say, then how can one trust how you characterize it?

      When it comes to political Islam, why insist on comparing it to history, rather than the present, rather than seeing it for itself? One could see that approach as an attempt to justify what is simply wrong, the violence and racism of political Islam. To explain political Islam as just a movement about establishing power is so simplistic that it means nothing whatsoever. I hope your analysis is more thoughtful than this cliche. It's why I kept asking you to explain why, to get a better understanding of how you seem to discount racist and violent aspects that are so prevalent today in Muslim societies.

      As I already said, the more extreme entities I mentioned have similar behavior in many fundamental respects that transcend geography and involve violence and racism, such as the treatment of women, gays, and non-Muslims. Even if you don't concede this point. Yes, Shia and Sunni are different, but not in this respect. Perhaps that is why you did provide the name of one place where political Islam exists in any fashion that does not oppress non-Muslims under law or its influence.

      I'll leave it there, other than to say that I do accept what you are saying. I know it by heart because it is pervasive in my surroundings. I may reject it also, particularly when it is apparent that, by choice it has failed to consider alternative arguments that I am aware of because I sought them out.

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    1. Perhaps you never considered it.

      In fact, nowhere was I ever subjected to similar treatment as I was at your site, and there was no excuse for it.

      You may not have realized, but many of the acts you referred to were exhibited there.

      I'll leave it there. My comment was more about insight, rather than blame, even as you interpret it as the latter.

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  3. oldschool... this isn't about you. Really it isn't.

    Mike wrote (and I give him credit here) a relatively benign article about the fact that I have packed up my suitcase and gone home (so to speak). I simply don't want to play in an arena where the most extreme voices hold sway - it's not healthy. Honestly, I find what is happening on the "Progressive Left" very disturbing AND I feel that what is happening on Republican Right down right disgusting. Frankly, I don't need either side and their lies and/or half truths. One side,(the Republicans)hates the President so much they are willing to pretty much invent shit out of thin air or take the flimsiest of facts and spin those things out of the orbit of reality. The funny thing is that their candidates and or policies are even more incoherent than what they claim to be against. They offer absolutely ZERO alternatives.

    The Other side (the Hard and increasingly the progressive Left) simply hates America and has now decided to team up with anyone and everyone (including the Hard/Libertarian Right)who agrees with them. Hence we see the "Let's Go Assad / Iran / Putin" team at places like DKos or HuffPo. That coupled with a healthy dose of anti-Semitism makes them a crappy place to focus on as well.

    Instead, I can focus on hanging with my family and friends, training in my Krav Maga and ITPS (Israeli Tactical Point Shooting), listening to great music, following my Giants (they may be terrible this year BUT they are still my fav. team), the 'Niners, and soon to be up and coming Warriors.

    When I want politics on the Middle East, I check out Blue Jews on Facebook, or Times of Israel, YNet and Haaretz. There... I can read the stories and come to my own conclusions. For U.S. politics I like MSNBC, the NYT, Paul Krugmann and the WAPO.

    Blogging lately seems to be just "so much noise". It has no real bearing on reality anymore. When people like David Harris Gershon, or various Right Wing spinning heads are those who dominate the discussion, then the discussion is not worth having. Just my .02

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    1. Cool. I have been talking about the Mutz paradox for awhile now. I never let this nonsense get to me because it's easy when one looks to see how people operate. Many of my comments are simply to play devil's advocate and flush out the issue for others.

      I don't agree as much with your views of the Republicans, though one time I may have. I do not see evil intent, and too often that is what is said about them. Never forget that they are dealing with many Democrats that are no more scrupulous.

      If one does not read the right wing and the left wing, one does not have the chance to find what each is obscuring. MSNBC, in particular, hides the ball, more than Fox. In any event, some of the best stuff comes from the right, and it is not based on underlying racism. There is much that the left leaning media ignores.

      Anyway, you are right about who dominates the discussion, and it's not the ones who seek solutions, but those spoiling for a fight.

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    2. Well here at least is something we totally agree on:

      ....who dominates the discussion, and it's not the ones who seek solutions, but those spoiling for a fight.

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  4. If you are not for yourself....then what, precisely? Hoping the people you hate you to death will hate to near-death of you wrap yourself in their hatred is a mug's game.

    I have to scratch my head when people ask me 'is there really anything worth dying for?' What a stupid question that is. If you have to ask then for you the answer is 'stick your head in the guillotine.'

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    1. Not sure what you are referring to here Trudy... or what this has to with PZ or myself. Maybe you could clarify?... As for people saying "Is there anything worth dying for"? The simple answer is: "Yes... there are". The real question then is... "Do you have the courage of your convictions."... that really is the key. All the rest is simply posturing.

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  5. I always go back to an anti war rally I attended in 2003 or 4 at Chapel Hill and it was sponsored by ANSWER. They also had the American Nazi Party and the KKK on stage protesting the war, or in their case the Jewish war as well. And the place was lousy with far left Jews like "Rabbi" Michael Lerner who was physically thrown off the stage. The look on his face was priceless. When our self professed better moral Jewish angels attempt to elevate themselves to the heights of the lunatics who want them dead in the hope that if they agree to be mass murdered that these very same people will suddenly have the scales fall from their eyes and will embrace them...well it's just silly.

    I accept that most people at best, are indifferent to the fate of the Jews and more typically would be fine with our extinction. I don't need to understand 'the other' on this point. I don't even need to meet them halfway or a quarter way or any of the way at all. Or, if someone insists I do then fine. And let's talk about all the good things slavery accomplished or how it's entirely acceptable to beat your wife or rape children or any of the other cultural norms we would need to be compelled to embrace too. Because as I keep saying over and over, I really don't care that someone is a Jew hating Nazi or whatever you want to call them today. As long as we all agree and admit that's that they are. As long as that's the brand they carry around with them.

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  6. Jon,

    I want to thank you for confirming the first of my theses.

    My first criticism of the Jewish left is that as a whole it fails to stand up against political Islam, or what is sometimes called "radical Islam" or "Islamism."

    Your argument does not refute the claim, but merely seeks to justify it.

    Your central argument seems to be this:

    "Jews fared far better under their Muslim overlords than they did under Christendom."

    This may or may not be true, but it also entirely irrelevant.

    The main problem today for the Jewish people in the Middle East is not the Christian minority which is being chased from the region due to the rise of political Islam, but the vast Muslim majority which refuses to accept Jewish sovereignty on Jewish land.

    In any case, I do thank you for demonstrating my point.

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