Monday, July 22, 2019

Promoting an alternative narrative, Part I

Sar Shalom

In a previous post, I wrote how the question of what the conflict is about would tell more about how a politician would relate to Israel than any question about their specific policy leanings. I concluded that post by saying that, under current circumstances, it would actually not succeed in doing so because everyone would answer the question wrongly, that it is about two peoples who need to find a way to share their common homeland. I now start to explore how to promote consideration of the possibility that the conflict is about Arab-Muslim irredentism for the 19th century social order.

The first step in promoting the discussability of the irredentism narrative is to identify the obstacles to that narrative. This must come before any mention of facts that require mental gymnastics to reconcile with the common homeland narrative but are bang-your-head obvious with the irredentism narrative. This is so because as long as those obstacles remain, and as long as the Palestinians' motives are not directly observable, people will perform the necessary mental gymnastics to protect the common homeland narrative and keep the irredentism narrative outside the pale.

I would speculate that one obstacle to the irredentism narrative is the belief that it would be deployed in bad faith in order to insulate Israel from ever having to make any concessions for peace. An attempt to answer that would require on insistence on precise language. The way to describe the barrier that Arab-Muslim irredentism presents to a resolution that would be anything other than strengthening the Palestinians' hands so that they can eliminate Israel without any further western assistance is not that peace is impossible because the Palestinians are irredentent. Rather, the description must be that peace is impossible as long as the Palestinians and that peace will be feasible as soon as the Palestinians ditch their irredentism, but no sooner. That formulation allows for Israeli concessions once the irredentism is abandoned and puts the onus on the peace crowd to push for such abandonment if it wishes to see Israeli concessions.

However, saying that abandonment of irredentism will bring forth Israeli willingness for concessions will be inadequate if Palestinian irredentism is unfalsifiable. In that case, the peace camp will just say that no matter what, we will claim that the Palestinians are irredentent and thus claim a get out of concessions free card. They will say if we claim that the Palestinians' irredentism persists past Arafat's recognition of Israel at Oslo, and Abbas reaffirmation of that recognition, that nothing would qualify to us as renunciation of that irredentism. We need to describe what would do so. I would suggest that a three-fold declaration from the Palestinian leadership would be sufficient to show that they might no longer be irredentent.
  1. The Jews are a people.
  2. The Jewish people are deeply connected to the Land of Israel in general and Jerusalem in particular.
  3. There is no legitimate role for the Pact of Umar in today's world.

This is not to say making the three-fold declaration would be proof-positive that the Palestinians have abandoned their irredentism. However doing so without contradiction, it would show that there is sufficient probability that they have in order to conduct talks. Notably, calling the excavation of the road that led pilgrims to the Temple "fake archaeology" is a contradiction of "the Jewish people are deeply connected to Jerusalem," and thus any statement to that effect would be as if the three-fold declaration was never made.
A further point is that it is necessary to know why failure to make the three-fold declaration, or any subsequent contradiction, is proof-positive that the irredentism remains. For that, it is necessary to explain why the PLO maintains in its charter that "the Jews are citizens of the countries where they live and have no national identity" and why the PA teaches in its curriculum that the Jews are not a people and that the Jewish connection to Jerusalem is a fiction concocted to justify stealing it from the Palestinians. As Einat Wilf has explained, peoples are entitled to the homeland from which they originate and denying that to any people is a grave injustice. However, if the Jews are not people, and if the Jews do not have any actual connection to the Land of Israel, then no people is being denied of its homeland by taking Israel away from the Jews and thus no injustice would be perpetrated. Hence, the refusal to acknowledge those three things is a creation of an alternate reality in which eliminating Israel, thus realizing their irredentism, is a just action.

With a clear condition that is straightforward to meet, we can make it clear that there is a reasonable condition under which concessions would be feasible, thus removing one obstacle to the irredentism narrative. Update: Link was added to the referenced post.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

The WHITE HOUSE? How Racist Is That?


They've come for everything else. Why not the "WHITE HOUSE." Surely that must stick in a lot of craws now. It used to be called the more descriptive "Executive Mansion," until that rank racist, Teddy Roosevelt, changed it officially to White House in 1901.

The current occupant and his children are like, total racists. Ivanka Trump recently bought her white daughter a white puppy named Winter (winter is a WHITE freaking month.)

 Cute dog but way too white in timing to racist daddy Trump's racist condemnation of antisemitic, anti-American congresswoman who are not white. Also, two are Muslims and Muslims think dogs are unclean. Coincidence? I think not. Nothing white racist Trumps do is a coincidence and it's all racist. Rep. Elijah Cummings recently finally branded Trump a racist and says his constituents tell him regularly him they are scared of President Donald Trump. This white dog could have been the final straw....or maybe it was.....the WHITE HOUSE!!!!

And the dog is not so innocent no matter how cute he looks. The dog is complicit in the racism because it probably loves those whiteys and wags its tail and everything. But "white people love dogs so much because deep down they miss owning slaves. They love the owner and master dynamic, desperate for something to control." That dog is an Uncle Tom dog. And Ivanka et al knew that going in.

There can be no racial healing in this country until there is no WHITE HOUSE or racist white dogs owned by racist Trumps.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

The question that we should ask the pols

Sar Shalom

In assessing how candidates for office would affect Israel, we tend to ask either what policies they would enact regarding Israel or whether they consider the Likud Party to be serious about peace. All of the questions along those lines are worthwhile. We do want to know if someone intends to support Israel and what response we can expect to see during the next eruption coming from Hamas and the inevitable collateral damage from Israel's response. However, there is a more fundamental question that should be asked.

That question is "What is the Israeli-Arab conflict about?" The wrong answer to that question is that the conflict is about two peoples desiring the same piece of territory for their homeland. The correct answer is that the conflict is about Arab-Muslim irridentism for the social order that prevailed until the 19th century. This question is fundamental because the answer frames the approach to all the others.

It is possible to correctly identify what the conflict is and still oppose the settlements, and even have some positive words about UNSC 2334. Notably, Einat Wilf who is as strident as anyone in identifying Palestinian irredentism as the root of the conflict calls for the removal of the settlements from all but a small portion of the Jordanian Conquest. However, there are at least two ways Wilf distinguishes herself from the bulk of the western intelligentsia. First, while Wilf opposes settling the land that she views as being for a Palestinian state, she calls for maintenance of the occupation until they abandon that irredentism. Second, Wilf's opposition to Israel's growth past the Green Line is not as doctrinaire as most of the western intelligentsia's. In an essay after UNSC 2334, Wilf wrote:
There is nothing sacrosanct in the 1949 armistice lines, but in the absence of the State of Israel delineating a clear border within the West Bank that puts a final limit on its territorial claims, the Green Line has become the line that distinguishes the kind of Israel that the world is willing to support from the kind that it is not.
What that line might indicate is that Wilf only presses the issue of the Green Line due to the lack of a counteroffer from our side and that she would be open to a counteroffer that leaves a substantial portion of the Jordanian Conquest under Israeli sovereignty while genuinely providing enough land for the Palestinians to establish a state. Those who view the conflict as just two peoples seeking the same territory for their homeland and needing to learn to share would probably be less inclined to compromise over the notion of Jordan's conquest abrogating Jewish rights for eternity than is Wilf.

The one problem with asking what the conflict is about is that for the time being it is unlikely to expose any difference between any of the candidates because I can't identify any candidate who would correctly describe it as Arab-Muslim social order-irredentism. Even Donald Trump would probably describe it as two groups competing for one tract of land, as I doubt that a contrary belief would induce him to seek a "deal of the century." We need to advance reasons why the public should realize that the conflict is about Arab-Muslim irridentism. To be continued.

Responding to Omar's proposed BDS resolution

Sar Shalom

Someone in the House should speak on the floor regarding Ilhan Omar's proposed resolution supporting the BDS movement in front of a picture like the following.
In front of that picture, he or she should say:
Here is a picture of the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives. Notice the tombstones in the picture. What do you think the purpose is of those tombstones?

Many of you hearing that question are probably asking why I bother to ask that question. You probably think it is obvious that their function is to mark who is buried in the cemetery and their exact burial location. However, not everyone agrees that it is so obvious. When Jordan occupied the territory between 1949 and 1967, the occupation authorities saw the tombstones as a resource to be harvested to pave their latrines.

So I ask the esteemed sponsor of the present resolution, is that what you believe the proper function is for these tombstones? Do you believe that they are meant for paving Arab latrines?

Send Her Back!?


Last night at his rally in North Carolina, Trump's supporters spontaneously broke out in cries of "Send her back." at the mention of Ilhan Omar's name. This all comes, undoubtedly from Trump's previous tweet ASKING unnamed Congresswomen "Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done"

Naturally, he and his followers are labelled racists and xenophobes because these unnamed Congresswomen are Persons of Color. It has nothing to do with the fact they seem to hate almost everything about America; favor Communism/Socialism; want open borders; hate Israel and call ICE workers "concentration camp guards." Since I don't think Trump or most of his followers are white supremacists I suspect they are acting from the latter rather than the former rationale. But that doesn't fit the Left's anti-Trump narrative.

Now the sight of a bunch of mostly white people shouting "send her back," about a black woman could remind you of a Hitler rally.....if you were really dumb or really reaching. And you have the perfect right to think it and say it. Go ahead, say it loud and long. Make sure every American voter hears you say it. Paint swastikas on picture of him and his family and his supporters and post them everywhere. Do it all. He double dog dares you.

And should you lose in 2020, heaven forbid, blame everyone but yourselves cause YOU tried to stop Orange Hitler. You did your level best.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

A Note to a Friend

Michael Lumish

I spoke with a friend recently who strongly suggested that while I consistently criticize the Left, I fail to do so of the Right.

That is not an unfair criticism.

I tend to be harder on the Left because I am a liberal who leans Left, particularly on domestic issues.

But she is not incorrect. I am harder on the Left because I expect very little from the right-wing, to begin with.

I was born in 1963 and when I was growing up in New York and Connecticut almost everyone that I knew was more-or-less on the Left. We were a bit too young to oppose the Vietnam War, but we opposed it, anyway.

We opposed what seemed to us as the militarism of the Right and the Republican Party... despite the fact that the Vietnam War was mainly a Democratic Party war.

We opposed unbridled capitalism.

We supported a strong social-economic safety-net for American workers. We supported environmental regulations to combat pollution and global warming. We supported a woman's right to choose an abortion and Gay rights, including the right to marriage. And, needless to say, we supported safety-rights for American industrial workers.

In fact, two of my best friends in the world found themselves featured as examples of Gay marriage on Fox News with the Bill O'Reilly filming of same-sex weddings in 2004, under the direction of Mayor Gavin Newsom. In fact, Kevin actually called up the station requesting a copy of that footage given that he and his husband were featured in it without their awareness. Fox refused the accommodation.

But the truth is that the American right-wing has dragged its heels on these kinds of issues.

It has rarely supported the interests of the working class, which includes almost all Americans.

In truth, within Congress, it has rarely supported the interests of anyone other than than the wealthy within the United States.

I guess that I am writing this note as an acknowledgment to my friend who is mighty pissed-off at me for my continual criticism of the progressive-left.

We can have ongoing differences going forward. I just hope that it does not ruin our friendship.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

On protecting journalists

Sar Shalom

Several months ago, the world was outraged when Saudi Arabia murdered Jamal Khashoggi. Many figures have called for the US to establish more distance with Saudi Arabia in response. How many figures doing so would react similarly if Mahmoud Abbas were to order a similar hit on Khaled Abu Toameh?

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Gazan women creating balloon bombs

Michael Lumish

Why are so many sympathetic Westerners almost entirely oblivious to what Gazans and Hamas are doing to Israel? How many thousands of acres need to be burned along the border from these balloon incendiary devices? How many more animals need to be burned alive, including those within animal preserves? People tend to think that Israel is strong... and it is strong, but it is also perpetually under siege. We are talking six or seven million Jews surrounded by about 350 million Arabs who generally do not want them there.

 So, who is the underdog?


Tuesday, July 9, 2019


Michael Lumish

It always amazes me how confident people can be in their own political opinions.

We have a tendency, both Left and Right, to plant our flags and defend them to the death.

Anyone who pays attention to politics understands about confirmation bias and how it tends to snuggy-up with our better feelings about ourselves.

I have dropped out of writing articles for awhile now. There are a number of reasons for this.

One reason is the weird distortion of American politics in the era of Trump.

This moment in American history bears an eerie resemblance to the United States of 1968.

The country is polarized and there is fighting in the streets.

There is no "loyal opposition." Those who disagree are considered the enemy.

But what always strikes me is that in 1968, tens of thousands of young American men died in the conflict in Vietnam.

The Ku Klux Klan was still active and popular in the southern states and still engaged in the hanging sport.

Within many households, men still expected women barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.

And racism, in general, was far worse than it is now.

And, yet, this American cultural moment is as angry and as violent as 1968.

The question is, why?

Monday, July 8, 2019

Michael Lumish

Will American Jews continue to support the Democratic Party in the same numbers from previous elections?

Friday, July 5, 2019

Open Thread Friday


Hope ya'll had a great holiday. There is much to talk about, so have at it! Inquiring minds wanna know if you think you are living in a dictatorship after Trump's tank and jet fighter July 4th.