Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Daniel Greenfield Speaks

We differ very much, Daniel and I.

Daniel Greenfield is a religious Jew and I am, for the most part, not. Although Laurie and I will be holding our annual Passover Seder this week.

But I think that it is fair to say that Greenfield is pretty hard-core right-wing.

One thing that leftists need to learn is that if, for example, George W. Bush says that the day is sunny, this does not automatically mean it's raining outside.

In a recent piece entitled, Great Idea! Let's Create a Real Palestinian State, Greenfield cuts directly to the bone:
Forget the peace process. Forget negotiations. They’ve never worked before. They’re not going to now.

And there’s nothing to negotiate anyway.

There are almost a million Jews living on territory claimed by the PLO. Removing them would be the single greatest act of ethnic cleansing against an indigenous population today. It wod also be impossible. But the same people who insist that the United States, a country of 318 million, can’t deport 11 million illegal aliens, think that Israel will somehow deport 1/8th of its own population if they just chant loudly enough about “occupation” outside Jewish businesses in London or San Francisco.

So, what the anti-Israel Left is selling you guys is the idea that on moral grounds the US should never seek to deport illegal aliens which represent a mere fraction of the US population.

I do not know that I favor such an action, either, yet these hypocrites will insist that Israel must remove the "settlers" - which is to say, Jewish people - from land that they legally purchased on the very land that we come from.

It is outrageous.

It is bigoted.

It is wrong.

It will not work.

And given Jewish history it is entirely immoral.

Nobody gets to tell Jewish people that we cannot live on Jewish land.

We are willing to share it, but we are not going to give up our own homeland no matter how many jihadis or self-righteous and ignorant leftists scream at the mayor of Jerusalem at SFSU.


  1. Mike, in what way do you disagree with Greenfield? Outside of being religious, it seems that on these subjects you take the hard-right view.
    Of course no one is going to be able to remove 1 million settlers. That is the point. That's totally the point. And why it has been so detrimental to Israel's desire for peace. There are, certainly, some factions in Israel who probably don't care about peace. That is a terrible shame. Most people do. And it creates division and a fracturing of Israeli society. How can that possibly be a good thing? You don't have to have much faith in the Israeli left, but taking a more moderate and pragmatic line is, perhaps, a more benign thing.
    None of that lets the Palestinian leadership off the hook. Or their international enablers. But, surely, you should want the possibility of some kind of deal, no matter how impossible that may seem.
    If not, what do you want? Just unadulterated anger and bitterness? That will destroy us all. Don't you think?

    1. k,
      I think the case can be made that settlements have been detrimental to Israel's image in the West, (based partly on some exploited faux legal/moral assumptions), but I don't think it has been detrimental to Israel's desire for peace, because they are not the core issue. Is Jerusalem really a settlement?
      The whole Left/Right paradigm is obscuring right and wrong as well as legitimate Jewish/Israeli rights and quite legitimate concerns about the obvious destructive intentions of the "Palestinian cause."

    2. Kate and Jeff,

      "Mike, in what way do you disagree with Greenfield? Outside of being religious, it seems that on these subjects you take the hard-right view."

      That is a fair question.


      I favor a woman's right to choose an abortion.

      I am pretty sure that Daniel does not under any circumstances beyond saving the life of the mother.

      I favor the right of 37 of my Gay friends to all marry one another... so long as they invite Laurie and myself to the BBQ.

      {It's their lives, not mine.}

      I marched against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      I bet Daniel did not.

      But more importantly, what makes Jewish nationalism "hard-right" while, say, black nationalism is considered Left?

      There is nothing "hard-right" about standing up for Jewish self-determination and self-defense.

      I agree with Jeff, and perhaps you do, as well, that the left-right paradigm simply does not fit the conflict.

    3. But, I think what you are really asking is how my viewpoint differs from Greenfield's in terms of the two-state solution or what Israel should do going forward to resolve the conflict.

      I do not know, exactly, because I am not so familiar with his work that I feel confident summing up his views off-the-cuff.

      He is an excellent writer, however. There is no question about that.

      For my part, I have been consistent on the question for years.

      Israel should declare its final borders and remove the IDF to behind those borders.

      What exactly those borders should be is not up to me to say.

      I am not certain if Greenfield agrees with Glick and Sherman that Israel should annex Judea and Samaria to the Jordan River, but I suspect that he does.

    4. Mike,
      I do not think that Jewish nationalism is necessarily hard-right. But nationalism, like anything else, exists on a spectrum.
      As for "black nationalism," again, it would depend what you include in that. And much of what is considered "left" is entirely despicable. I do not use "left" and "right" to distinguish good from bad, but I like neither the "hard-right" nor the "hard-left." The biggest difference between the "hard" wings of both sides is that the mainstream right have utterly divorced themselves from the hard-right, and condemned them. That has never happened on the left. In fact, the mainstream, progressive left are still driven by, and still continue to romanticize the hard-left. Those ideas have never been condemned. And are presented as "good" things.
      Interestingly, as the "horseshoe" theory goes, one can see the hard-right and the hard-left converging. Now especially.
      Alarmingly. But only condemned by one side.

    5. k,
      Current discourse seems to be predicated on the idea one is good and one is bad, left or right, take your pick. At least that is my experience watching the media, and in my own attempts to talk friends and family. The resistance I get is breathtaking. I was for a stretch of my life in that same comfort zone. It makes life more comfortable in some ways.
      re: the hard wings, etc., you are absolutely correct, IMV.

  2. Greenfield's point is fairly subtle though. We live in a world where there are no solutions or fixes to anything. All that happens is a slow resetting of the waterlevel for acceptable atrocities. Any 'palestinian' state would actually function like this and the only complaints you'd get from the 'the west' is why the hell aren't there even more dead Jews? It's a world where this is how 'legitimate' states function. If you don't like the cable TV company, shoot up the place. If have a billing dispute with someone, kill them. If your neighbor irritates you, either kill their whole family or have the authorities round them up for execution. When there's something you don't like - simply lob a mortar or fire a rocket at it. Car bombings, attacks on hospitals and nursery schools are not only the norm they are an acceptable way to manage ones internal and external affairs.

    In short there already IS a 'palestinian' state. We call it Syria.

  3. See : ourworldindata.org by Max Roser at Oxford University.
    There is far less violence in the world than there has ever been in human history. People have a very mistaken perception of levels of violence. It is interesting.


    1. It is interesting.

      I wonder how a scientist can determine that, exactly?

    2. Well, they know that we can measure the levels of violence by how many people in previous generations would have died by being killed by someone else. All findings of human remains from earlier times indicate high numbers of people - usually men - dying by another's hand. As opposed to "of natural causes." There were, obviously, far fewer people on Earth than in later eras, but it still checks out according to percentages. Interestingly, totally measurable levels of violence, for example fifty or a hundred years ago, are completely misconceived by most people. Most people in America think there is more violence than fifty years ago, that is entirely inaccurate. It's about perception. And we are far more outraged by violence in the present day than previous generations were. That's why we seem to be so prone to having such an inaccurate view of the world. Also,,violence in the US has declined steeply in the last twenty-five years or so. Violent crime has fallen dramatically. No one really knows why. They are pondering that one. Violent crime has fallen dramatically throughout the Western developed world. Over the same period. It's very interesting and no one really understands it. Lots of theories, no solid answers.

      Best person on all of this is Stephen Pinker. Highly recommended: "The Blank Slate." There's a youtube lecture if you don't want to read the book. Have to get through about fifteen minutes of terrible sound quality and previews of other stuff, but it's fine when he starts. Really interesting and very entertaining.

    3. They talked about this phenomenon on that Norwegian series you recommended, as well, what was it called again?

    4. Jeff,
      In English:* Brainwashing. By Harald Eia. Norwegian documentaries.* There are seven in the series. All on YouTube. They are all interesting. Beware that some episodes have end credits and some seem to just end abruptly. They are all actually the same length. I think it's just the way they are loaded, or whatever the right term is. Googling those key words should be fine to get hold of them.
      They cover lots of the central ideas that social scientists - and all of us - deal with. One of the really interesting things about the whole series is it makes you understand what a pickle the social sciences have got themselves into. And how politicized they are.
      To paraphrase Professor Simon Baron-Cohen,at the end of one of the episodes ( I think it's "Nature vs Nurture" or "The Gender Equality Paradox,"), 'It's a very modest proposal that both nurture and nature matter. Environment is important, but don't forget about biology. That's all.'

      Also, there is another lecture by Stephen Pinker available on youtube which deals specifically with the history of humanity and violence. I think it's called "The Better Angels of our Nature."
      If you Google* Stephen Pinker, humanity and violence, better angels of our nature,* it should come up.

      I'll check that to see if it's right. It's at Edinburgh university, I think.
      Hope that's all right.
      I'd be interested in what you think.

    5. Jeff,
      Stephen Pinker lecture on humanity and violence: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5X2-ipoNU

      Hope that works. It's an hour and sixteen minutes long. Not to be confused with shorter versions such as TED talks.
      His "Blank Slate" lecture is really interesting, too. Similar length.

    6. Kate, is Simon Baron-Cohen related to Borat?

    7. Jacob,
      Yes. They're first cousins.
      Actually, during one of the Norwegian ( Brainwashing) episodes- probably one of the two I mentioned above - the filmmaker comments on that as he's a comedian himself and a big fan of Sacha Baron- Cohen. Simon Baron-Cohen is a really interesting and gifted scientist. Interesting family.

  4. One could also make the case that there have been more genocides and atrocities in terms of pure raw headcount since the creation of the UN than before. Virtually to the point today that mass deaths of 'only' a few hundred thousand people are either unnoticed or bizarrely trotted out as diplomatic successes.

    1. Trudy,
      It's interesting, if you listen to Stephen Pinker on "The Better Angels of Our Nature." It is likely that " genocide" was considered perfectly normal throughout human history. It is a very modern phenomenon that we create a term for it or consider it a moral outrage. It is probable,, from what they understand above how records were made, that the mass killing of entire peoples and tribes would have happened as a matter of course. Ordinary people, women and children etc., would not even have been thought worthy of having their deaths recorded.
      The world was far more brutal in the past. And much, much higher proportions of the population were killed through violence. There are all sorts of fascinating reasons and theories as to why we evolved - even with all our massive faults- into a less violent species. Even when one examines the twentieth century, what we consider the pinnacle of man's ability to kill each other, the death toll from *all* the horrors actually are, proportionally, tiny compared to earlier eras. It really is fascinating. And quite different from what we tend to think.

  5. Unfortunately, when it comes to Israel and support for the Jewish state as of recent times, it appears there are two wings: the right wing and the wrong wing.