A former AP journalist tells the truth about news coverage about Israel

Outstanding speech by Matti Friedman former AP journalist about Israel given at a BICOM dinner in London on January 26.

His speech is an absolute must-read. It is long but worth every minute you take to read it.

 Live Leak

HIGHLIGHTS

  • I gradually began to be aware of certain malfunctions in the coverage of the Israel story – recurring omissions, recurring inflations, decisions made according to considerations that were not journalistic but political,
  • we sought to hint or say outright that Israeli soldiers were war criminals, and every detail supporting that portrayal was to be seized upon.
  • But an Israeli peace offer and its rejection by the Palestinians didn’t suit OUR story. The bureau chief ordered both reporters to ignore the Olmert offer,
  • Neo-Nazi rallies at Palestinian universities or in Palestinian cities are not — I saw images of such rallies suppressed on more than one occasion. Jewish hatred of Arabs is a story. Arab hatred of Jews is not.
  • Our policy, for example, was not to mention the assertion in the Hamas founding charter that Jews were responsible for engineering both world wars and the Russian and French revolutions, despite the obvious insight this provides into the thinking of one of the most influential actors in the conflict.
  • 100 houses in a West Bank settlement are a story. 100 rockets smuggled into Gaza are not.
  • The Hamas military buildup amid and under the civilian population of Gaza is not a story. But Israeli military action responding to that threat – that is a story,
  • Israel’s responsibility for the deaths of civilians as a result – that’s a story. Hamas’s responsibility for those deaths is not
  • Israel’s flaws were dissected and magnified, while the flaws of its enemies were purposely erased.
  • threats facing Israel were disregarded or even mocked as figments of the Israeli imagination,
  • a fictional image of Israel and of its enemies was manufactured, polished, and propagated to devastating effect by inflating certain details, ignoring others, and presenting the result as an accurate picture of reality.
  • The international press in Israel had become less an observer of the conflict than a player in it. It had moved away from careful explanation and toward a kind of political character assassination
  • Something toxic is driving this –  ” Jews are troublemakers, a negative force in world events, and that if these people, as a collective, could somehow be made to vanish, we would all be better off”.

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TRUTHS

  • The occupation is not the conflict, which of course predates the occupation. It is a symptom of the conflict, a conflict that would remain even if the symptom were somehow solved.
  • an end to the occupation will create a power vacuum that will be filled, as all power vacuums in the region have been, not by the forces of democracy and modernity, which in our region range from weak to negligible, but by the powerful and ruthless, by the extremists
  • People observing this conflict from afar have been led to believe that Israel faces a simple choice between occupation and peace. That choice is fiction.
  • The Palestinian choice, it is said, is between Israeli occupation and an independent democracy. That choice, too, is fiction
  • The only group of people subject to a systematic boycott at present in the Western world is Jews, appearing now under the convenient euphemism “Israelis.”
  • The only country that has its own “apartheid week” on campuses is the Jewish country.
  • No one cares that, “The human costs of the Middle Eastern adventures of America and Britain in this century have been far higher, and far harder to explain, than anything Israel has ever done. They have involved occupations, and the violence they unleashed continues.”
  • the fashionable disgust for Israel among many in the West is not liberal but is selective, disproportionate, and discriminatory
  • The cult’s priesthood can be found among the activists, NGO experts, and ideological journalists who have turned coverage of this conflict into a catalogue of Jewish moral failings,
  • boycotts of Israel, and only of Israel, which are one of the cult’s most important practices, have significant support in the press, including among editors.
  • Sympathy for Israel’s predicament is highly unpopular in the relevant social circles, and is something to be avoided by anyone wishing to be invited to the right dinner parties, or to be promoted.
  • the events in Gaza this summer were portrayed not as a complicated war but as a massacre of innocents.
  • The Jew is the perennial scapegoat for all that is wrong with the world.
  • As the journalist Charles Maurras wrote, approvingly, in 1911: “Everything seems impossible, or frighteningly difficult, without the providential arrival of anti-Semitism, through which all things fall into place and are simplified.”
  • the global villain, as portrayed in newspapers and on TV, is none other than the Jewish soldier, or the Jewish settler. They  are the heirs to the Jewish banker or Jewish commissar of the past.
  • The world isn’t fixated on Israel despite everything else going on – but rather because of everything else going on.

One night several years ago, I came out of Bethlehem after a reporting assignment and crossed through the Israeli military checkpoint between that city and its neighbor, Jerusalem, where I live. With me were perhaps a dozen Palestinian men, mostly in their thirties – my age. No soldiers were visible at the entrance to the checkpoint, a precaution against suicide bombers. We saw only steel and concrete. I followed the other men through a metal detector into a stark corridor and followed instructions barked from a loudspeaker – Remove your belt! Lift up your shirt! The voice belonged to a soldier watching us on a closed-circuit camera. Exiting the checkpoint, adjusting my belt and clothing with the others, I felt like a being less than entirely human and understood, not for the first time, how a feeling like that would provoke someone to violence.

Consumers of news will recognize this scene as belonging to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, which keeps the 2.5 million Palestinians in that territory under military rule, and has since 1967. The facts of this situation aren’t much in question. This should be an issue of concern to Israelis, whose democracy, military, and society are corroded by the inequality in the West Bank. This, too, isn’t much in question.

The question we must ask, as observers of the world, is why this conflict has come over time to draw more attention than any other, and why it is presented as it is. How have the doings in a country that constitutes 0.01 percent of the world’s surface become the focus of angst, loathing, and condemnation more than any other? We must ask how Israelis and Palestinians have become the stylized symbol of conflict, of strong and weak, the parallel bars upon which the intellectual Olympians of the West perform their tricks – not Turks and Kurds, not Han Chinese and Tibetans, not British soldiers and Iraqi Muslims, not Iraqi Muslims and Iraqi Christians, not Saudi sheikhs and Saudi women, not Indians and Kashmiris, not drug cartel thugs and Mexican villagers. Questioning why this is the case is in no way an attempt to evade or obscure reality, which is why I opened with the checkpoint leading from Bethlehem. On the contrary – anyone seeking a full understanding of reality can’t avoid this question. My experiences as a journalist provide part of the answer, and also raise pressing questions that go beyond the practice of journalism.

I have been writing from and about Israel for most of the past 20 years, since I moved there from Toronto at age 17. During the five and a half years I spent as part of the international press corps as a reporter for the American news agency The Associated Press, between 2006 and 2011, I gradually began to be aware of certain malfunctions in the coverage of the Israel story – recurring omissions, recurring inflations, decisions made according to considerations that were not journalistic but political, all in the context of a story staffed and reported more than any other international story on earth. When I worked in the AP’s Jerusalem bureau, the Israel story was covered by more AP news staff than China, or India, or all of the fifty-odd countries of sub-Saharan Africa combined. This is representative of the industry as a whole.

In early 2009, to give one fairly routine example of an editorial decision of the kind I mean, I was instructed by my superiors to report a second-hand story taken from an Israeli newspaper about offensive T-shirts supposedly worn by Israeli soldiers. We had no confirmation of our own of the story’s veracity, and one doesn’t see much coverage of things US Marines or British infantrymen have tattooed on their chests or arms. And yet T-shirts worn by Israeli soldiers were newsworthy in the eyes of one of the world’s most powerful news organizations. This was because we sought to hint or say outright that Israeli soldiers were war criminals, and every detail supporting that portrayal was to be seized upon. Much of the international press corps covered the T-shirt story. At around the same time, several Israeli soldiers were quoted anonymously in a school newsletter speaking of abuses they had supposedly witnessed while fighting in Gaza; we wrote no fewer than three separate stories about this, although the use of sources whose identity isn’t known to reporters is banned for good reason by the AP’s own in-house rules. This story, too, was very much one that we wanted to tell. By the time the soldiers came forward to say they hadn’t actually witnessed the events they supposedly described, and were trying to make a point to young students about the horrors and moral challenges of warfare, it was, of course, too late.

Also in those same months, in early 2009, two reporters in our bureau obtained details of a peace offer made by the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, to the Palestinians several months before, and deemed by the Palestinians to be insufficient. The offer proposed a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza with a capital in a shared Jerusalem. This should have been one of the year’s biggest stories. But an Israeli peace offer and its rejection by the Palestinians didn’t suit OUR story. The bureau chief ordered both reporters to ignore the Olmert offer, and they did, despite a furious protest from one of them, who later termed this decision “the biggest fiasco I’ve seen in 50 years of journalism.” But it was very much in keeping not only with the practice at the AP, but in the press corps in general. Soldiers’ vile t-shirts were worth a story. Anonymous and unverifiable testimonies of abuses were worth three. A peace proposal from the Israeli prime minister to the Palestinian president was not to be reported at all.

Vandalism of Palestinian property is a story. Neo-Nazi rallies at Palestinian universities or in Palestinian cities are not — I saw images of such rallies suppressed on more than one occasion. Jewish hatred of Arabs is a story. Arab hatred of Jews is not. Our policy, for example, was not to mention the assertion in the Hamas founding charter that Jews were responsible for engineering both world wars and the Russian and French revolutions, despite the obvious insight this provides into the thinking of one of the most influential actors in the conflict.

100 houses in a West Bank settlement are a story. 100 rockets smuggled into Gaza are not. The Hamas military buildup amid and under the civilian population of Gaza is not a story. But Israeli military action responding to that threat – that is a story, as we all saw this summer. Israel’s responsibility for the deaths of civilians as a result – that’s a story. Hamas’s responsibility for those deaths is not. Any reporter from the international press corps in Israel, whether he or she works for the AP, Reuters, CNN, the BBC, or elsewhere, will recognize the examples I’ve cited here of what is newsworthy and what is not as standard operating procedure.

In my time in the press corps I saw, from the inside, how Israel’s flaws were dissected and magnified, while the flaws of its enemies were purposely erased. I saw how the threats facing Israel were disregarded or even mocked as figments of the Israeli imagination, even as these threats repeatedly materialized. I saw how a fictional image of Israel and of its enemies was manufactured, polished, and propagated to devastating effect by inflating certain details, ignoring others, and presenting the result as an accurate picture of reality. Lest we think this is something that has never happened before, we might remember Orwell’s observation about journalism from the Spanish civil war: “Early in life,” he wrote, “I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper, but in Spain, for the first time, I saw newspaper reports which do not bear any relation to the facts, not even the relationship which is implied in an ordinary lie. … I saw, in fact, history being written not in terms of what had happened but of what ought to have happened according to various ‘party lines.’” That was in 1942.

Over time, I came to understand that the malfunctions I was witnessing, and in which I was playing a part, were not limited to the AP. I saw that they were rather part of a broader problem in the way the press functioned, and in how it saw its job. The international press in Israel had become less an observer of the conflict than a player in it. It had moved away from careful explanation and toward a kind of political character assassination on behalf of the side it identified as being right. It valued a kind of ideological uniformity from which you were not allowed to stray. So having begun with limited criticism of certain editorial decisions, I now found myself with a broad critique of the press.

Eventually, however, I realized that even the press wasn’t the whole story. The press was playing a key role in an intellectual phenomenon taking root in the West, but it wasn’t the cause, or not the only cause – it was both blown on a certain course by the prevailing ideological winds, and causing those winds to blow with greater force. Many journalists would like you to believe that the news is created by a kind of algorithm – that it’s a mechanical, even scientific process in which events are inserted, processed, and presented. But of course the news is an imperfect and entirely human affair, the result of interactions between sources, reporters, and editors, all of whom bear the baggage of their background and who reflect, as we all do to some extent, the prejudices of their peers.

In the aftermath of last summer’s Gaza war, and in light of events in Europe in recent months, it should be clear that something deep and toxic is going on. Understanding what that is, it seems to me, will help us understand something important not only about journalism but about the Western mind and the way it sees the world.

What presents itself as political criticism, as analysis, or as journalism, is coming to sound more and more like a new version of a much older complaint – that Jews are troublemakers, a negative force in world events, and that if these people, as a collective, could somehow be made to vanish, we would all be better off. This is, or should be, a cause for alarm, and not only among people sympathetic to Israel or concerned with Jewish affairs. What is in play right now has less to do with the world of politics than with the worlds of psychology and religion, and less to do with Israel than with those condemning Israel.

The occupation of the West Bank, with which I opened, would seem to be at the heart of the story, the root cause, as it were, of the conflict portrayed as the most important on earth. A few words, then, about this occupation.

The occupation was created in the 1967 Mideast war. The occupation is not the conflict, which of course predates the occupation. It is a symptom of the conflict, a conflict that would remain even if the symptom were somehow solved. If we look at the West Bank, the only Palestinian area currently occupied by Israel, and if we include Jerusalem, we see that the conflict in these areas claimed 60 lives last year – Palestinian and Israeli.

An end to this occupation would free Palestinians from Israeli rule, and free Israelis from ruling people who do not wish to be ruled. Observers of the Middle East in 2015 understand, too, that an end to the occupation will create a power vacuum that will be filled, as all power vacuums in the region have been, not by the forces of democracy and modernity, which in our region range from weak to negligible, but by the powerful and ruthless, by the extremists. This is what we’ve learned from the unraveling of the Middle East in recent years. This is what happened in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Egypt, and before that in Gaza and southern Lebanon. My home in Jerusalem is within an easy day’s drive of both Aleppo and Baghdad. Creating a new playground for these forces will bring the black-masked soldiers of radical Islam within yards of Israeli homes with mortars, rockets, and tunneling implements. Many thousands will die.

Beyond the obvious threat to Palestinian Christians, women, gays, and liberals, who will be the first to suffer, this threatens to render much or all of Israel unlivable, ending the only safe progressive space in the Middle East, the only secure minority refuge in the Middle East, and the only Jewish country on earth. No international investment or guarantees, no Western-backed government or Western-trained military will be able to keep that from happening, as we have just seen in Iraq. The world will greet this outcome with sincere expressions of sympathy. Only several years ago I, like many on the left, might have dismissed this as an apocalyptic scenario. It isn’t. It is the most likely scenario.

People observing this conflict from afar have been led to believe that Israel faces a simple choice between occupation and peace. That choice is fiction. The Palestinian choice, it is said, is between Israeli occupation and an independent democracy. That choice, too, is fiction. Neither side faces a clear choice, or clear outcomes. Here we have a conflict in a region of conflict, with no clear villain, no clear victim, and no clear solution, one of many hundreds or thousands of ethnic, national, and religious disputes on earth.

The only group of people subject to a systematic boycott at present in the Western world is Jews, appearing now under the convenient euphemism “Israelis.” The only country that has its own “apartheid week” on campuses is the Jewish country. Protesters have interfered with the unloading of Israeli shipping on the West Coast of the United States, and there are regular calls for a boycott of anything produced in the Jewish state. No similar tactics are currently employed against any other ethnic group or nationality, no matter how egregious the human rights violations attributed to that group’s country of origin.

Anyone who questions why this is so will be greeted with shouts of “the occupation!”, as if this were explanation enough. It is not. Many who would like to question these phenomena don’t dare, for fear that they will somehow be expressing support for this occupation, which has been inflated from a geopolitical dilemma of modest scope by global standards into the world’s premier violation of human rights.

The human costs of the Middle Eastern adventures of America and Britain in this century have been far higher, and far harder to explain, than anything Israel has ever done. They have involved occupations, and the violence they unleashed continues as I speak here this evening. No one boycotts American or British professors. Turkey is a democracy, and a NATO member, and yet its occupation of northern Cyprus and long conflict with the stateless Kurds – many of whom see themselves as occupied – are viewed with a yawn; there is no “Turkish Apartheid Week.” The world is full of injustice. Billions of people are oppressed. In Congo, 5 million people are dead. The time has come for everyone to admit that the fashionable disgust for Israel among many in the West is not liberal but is selective, disproportionate, and discriminatory.

There are simply too many voices coming from too many places, expressing themselves in too poisonous a way, for us to conclude that this is a narrow criticism of the occupation. It’s time for the people making these charges to look closely at themselves, and for us to look closely at them.

Naming and understanding this sentiment is important, as it is becoming one of the key intellectual trends of our time. We might think of it as the “Cult of the Occupation.” This belief system, for that it what it is, uses the occupation as a way of talking about other things.

As usual with Western religions, the center of this one is in the Holy Land. The dogma posits that the occupation is not a conflict like any other, but that it is the very symbol of conflict: that the minute state inhabited by a persecuted minority in the Middle East is in fact a symbol of the ills of the West – colonialism, nationalism, militarism, and racism. In the recent riots in Ferguson, Missouri, for example, a sign hoisted by marchers linked the unrest between African Americans and the police to Israeli rule over Palestinians.

The cult’s priesthood can be found among the activists, NGO experts, and ideological journalists who have turned coverage of this conflict into a catalogue of Jewish moral failings, as if Israeli society were different from any other group of people on earth, as if Jews deserve to be mocked for having suffered and failed to be perfect as a result.

Most of my former colleagues in the press corps aren’t full-fledged members of this group. They aren’t true believers. But boycotts of Israel, and only of Israel, which are one of the cult’s most important practices, have significant support in the press, including among editors who were my superiors. Sympathy for Israel’s predicament is highly unpopular in the relevant social circles, and is something to be avoided by anyone wishing to be invited to the right dinner parties, or to be promoted. The cult and its belief system are in control of the narrative, just as the popular kids in a school and those who decide what clothes or music are acceptable. In the social milieu of the reporters, NGO workers, and activists, which is the same social world, these are the correct opinions. This guides the coverage. This explains why the events in Gaza this summer were portrayed not as a complicated war like many others fought in this century, but as a massacre of innocents. And it explains much else.

So prevalent has this kind of thinking become that participating in liberal intellectual life in the West increasingly requires you to subscribe at least outwardly to this dogma, particularly if you’re a Jew and thus suspected of the wrong sympathies. If you’re a Jew from Israel, your participation is increasingly conditional on an abject and public display of self-flagellation. Your participation, indeed, is increasingly unwelcome.

What, exactly, is going on?

Observers of Western history understand that at times of confusion and unhappiness, and of great ideological ferment, negative sentiment tends to coagulate around Jews. Discussions of the great topics of the time often end up as discussions about Jews.

In the late 1800s, for example, French society was riven by the clash between the old France of the church and army, and the new France of liberalism and the rule of law. The French were preoccupied with the question of who is French, and who is not. They were smarting from their military humiliation by the Prussians. All of this sentiment erupted around the figure of a Jew, Alfred Dreyfus, accused of betraying France as a spy for Germany. His accusers knew he was innocent, but that didn’t matter; he was a symbol of everything they wanted to condemn.

To give another example: Germans in the 1920s and ‘30s were preoccupied with their humiliation in the Great War. This became a discussion of Jewish traitors who had stabbed Germany in the back. Germans were preoccupied as well with the woes of their economy – this became a discussion of Jewish wealth, and Jewish bankers.

In the years of the rise of Communism and the Cold War, communists concerned with their ideological opponents talked about Jewish capitalists and cosmopolitans, or Jewish doctors plotting against the state. At the very same time, in capitalist societies threatened by communism, people condemned Jewish Bolsheviks.

This is the face of this recurring obsession. As the journalist Charles Maurras wrote, approvingly, in 1911: “Everything seems impossible, or frighteningly difficult, without the providential arrival of anti-Semitism, through which all things fall into place and are simplified.”

The West today is preoccupied with a feeling of guilt about the use of power. That’s why the Jews, in their state, are now held up in the press and elsewhere as the prime example of the abuse of power. That’s why for so many the global villain, as portrayed in newspapers and on TV, is none other than the Jewish soldier, or the Jewish settler. This is not because the Jewish settler or soldier is responsible for more harm than anyone else on earth – no sane person would make that claim. It is rather because these are the heirs to the Jewish banker or Jewish commissar of the past. It is because when moral failure raises its head in the Western imagination, the head tends to wear a skullcap.

One would expect the growing scale and complexity of the conflict in the Middle East over the past decade to have eclipsed the fixation on Israel in the eyes of the press and other observers. Israel is, after all, a sideshow: The death toll in Syria in less than four years far exceeds the toll in the Israel-Arab conflict in a century. The annual death toll in the West Bank and Jerusalem is a morning in Iraq.

And yet it is precisely in these years that the obsession has grown worse.

This makes little sense, unless we understand that people aren’t fixated on Israel despite everything else going on – but rather because of everything else going on. As Maurras wrote, when you use the Jew as the symbol of what is wrong, “all things fall into place and are simplified.”

The last few decades have brought the West into conflict with the Islamic world. Terrorists have attacked New York, Washington, London, Madrid, and now Paris. America and Britain caused the unraveling of Iraq, and hundreds of thousands of people are dead there. Afghanistan was occupied and thousands of Western soldiers killed, along with countless civilians – but the Taliban are alive and well, undeterred. Ghaddafi was removed, and Libya is no better off. All of this is confusing and discouraging. It causes people to search for answers and explanations, and these are hard to come by. It is in this context that the Cult of the Occupation has caught on. The idea is that the problems in the Middle East have something to do with Jewish arrogance and perfidy, that the sins of one’s own country can be projected upon the Western world’s old blank screen. This is the idea increasingly reflected on campuses, in labor unions, and in the media fixation on Israel. It’s a projection, one whose chief instrument is the press.

As one BBC reporter informed a Jewish interviewee on camera several weeks ago, after a Muslim terrorist murdered four Jewish shoppers at a Paris supermarket, “Many critics of Israel’s policy would suggest that the Palestinians suffered hugely at Jewish hands as well.” Everything, that is, can be linked to the occupation, and Jews can be blamed even for the attacks against them. This isn’t the voice of the perpetrators, but of the enablers. The voice of the enablers is less honest than that of the perpetrators, and more dangerous for being disguised in respectable English. This voice is confident and growing in volume. This is why the year 2015 finds many Jews in Western Europe eyeing their suitcases again.

The Jews of the Middle East are outnumbered by the Arabs of the Middle East 60 to 1, and by the world’s Muslims 200 to 1. Half of the Jews in Israel are there because their families were forced from their homes in the 20th century not by Christians in Europe, but by Muslims in the Middle East. Israel currently has Hezbollah on its northern border, al-Qaeda on its northeastern and southern borders, and Hamas in Gaza. None of these groups seek an end to the occupation, but rather openly wish to destroy Israel. But it is naïve to point out these facts. The facts don’t matter: We are in the world of symbols. In this world, Israel has become a symbol of what is wrong – not Hamas, not Hezbollah, not Great Britain, not America, not Russia.

I believe it’s important to recognize the pathologies at play in order to make sense of things. In this context it’s worth pointing out that I’m hardly the first to identify a problem – Jewish communities like this one, and particularly organizations like Bicom, identified a problem long ago, and have been expending immense efforts to correct it. I wish this wasn’t necessary, and it shouldn’t be necessary, but it undoubtedly is necessary, and becoming more so, and I have great respect for these efforts. Many people, particularly young people, are having trouble maintaining their balance amid this ideological onslaught, which is successfully disguised as journalism or analysis, and is phrased in the language of progressive politics. I would like to help them keep their bearings.

I don’t believe, however, that anyone should make a feeling of persecution the center of their identity, of their Judaism, or of their relationship with Israel. The obsession is a fact, but it isn’t a new fact, and it shouldn’t immobilize us in anger, or force us into a defensive crouch. It shouldn’t make us less willing to seek to improve our situation, to behave with compassion to our neighbors, or to continue building the model society that Israel’s founders had in mind.

I was in Tel Aviv not long ago, on Rothschild Boulevard. The city was humming with life. Signs of prosperity were everywhere, in the renovated Bauhaus buildings, in the clothes, the stores. I watched the people go by: Kids with old bikes and tattoos, businesspeople, men with women, women with women, men with men, all speaking the language of the Bible and Jewish prayer. The summer’s Hamas rockets were already a memory, just a few months old but subsumed in the frantic, irrepressible life of the country. There were cranes everywhere, raising new buildings. There were schoolchildren with oversize knapsacks, and parents with strollers. I heard Arabic, Russian, and French, and the country went about its business with a potent cheer and determination that you miss if all you see are threats and hatred. There have always been threats and hatred, and it has never stopped us. We have enemies, and we have friends. The dogs bark, as the saying goes, and the convoy rolls by.

One of the questions presented to us by the wars of the modern age is what now constitutes victory. In the 21st century, when a battlefield is no longer conquered or lost, when land isn’t changing hands and no one ever surrenders, what does it mean to win?

The answer is that victory is no longer determined on the battlefield. It’s determined in the center, in the society itself. Who has built a better society? Who has provided better lives for people? Where is there the most optimism? Where can the most happy people be found? One report on world happiness ranked Israel as the 11th happiest country on earth. The UK was 22nd.

Israel’s intellectual opponents can rant about the moral failings of the Jews, obscuring their obsession in whatever sophisticated way they choose. The gunmen of Hamas and their allies can stand on heaps of rubble and declare victory. They can fire rockets, and shoot up supermarkets. But if you look at Tel Aviv, or at any thriving neighborhood in Jerusalem, Netanya, Rishon Letzion, or Haifa, you understand that this is victory. This is where we’ve won, and where we win every day.

January 30, 2015 | 13 Comments »

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  1. @ Felix Quigley:

    Mugabe shrugs off concerns over African Union-West relations
    http://news.yahoo.com/mugabe-shrugs-off-concerns-over-african-union-west-194322284.html

    here is an example of current world trends where the nations of Africa have chosen as their representative and figurehead a fascist nut cake. Mugabe enjoys the support of China and this symbolizes the success of a pragmatic and amoral China over the supposedly ethical west in geo political events. The future is not always necessarily a straight line progression ending in lofty goals achieved. On the contrary, history evidences cycles and although there is material progression there are ups and downs in relation to what values propel the majority of the globe. In my view there is a strong tendency towards RAW POWER as represented by the 3 self-interested parties you mentioned. How this will be resolved is anyones guess but only a fool would rely on there being only ONE possible outcome. Israel should intelligently consider the most likely outcome which is further hostility, potential sanctions and a world of war and power as opposed to a world of global institutions. whichever side is successful it matters not because Israel has been suffering under the influence of those purporting to advance global ethical institutions in which case it may be objectively preferable if the side of raw power and self-interest becomes the successful paradigm. I do not know, but I do know that the side advancing global institutions is the same side attacking Israel whereas the pragmatic influenced entities appear more open.

    OBL stated that “the world favors a strong horse” and since he said that global trends appear to bear him out. International law is irrelevant as it is self interest which drives the so called law. Law and PR must be seen as weapons of warfare rather than attempts at influencing hearts and minds. Surely you communists embrace such paradigms, like the “useful idiots”. My own experience with creeping socialism/communism shows me that they are very pragmatic and self interested and that ideas, ideologies are merely for the consumption of the “useful idiots”

  2. Felix Quigley Said:

    Was the Golan decision to partition and exclude Transjordan (78 per cent) also illegal? It seems to me that Grief suggests it was unethical but in International Law not illegal but I am not sure onthat.

    You are not sure of anything you posted as you appear to be unable to make an assertion other than name calling. State your argument NOT your lack of ability to arrive at conclusions.

  3. Felix Quigley Said:

    Mr Ross you should not allow your subjective idealism and conspiracy theory peddling run amok and should listen to those who have a grasp of reality such as Ted and “Economist”.

    Please explain yourself: state your assertion, give your evidence and support, as I did with my post. Otherwise you are as usual demonstrating your ignorance. I searched through your post and could find no argument to which to reply. I only see your usual tactic of name calling which is odd for a self proclaimed trotskyite who one would expect to engage in logical reasoning. You appear to be accusing me of “subjective idealism”, “conspiracy theory peddling” and not having a “strong grip on reality”. However, I cannot find any examples WITH SUPPORT OR EVIDENCE in your masturbatory post. Let me provide support for my assertion of your “masturbatory post” in order to acquaint you with the process:

    MASTURBATORY: Excessively self-indulgent or self-involved: “[The play’s] star … paces around his cell, smoking and snarling in a masturbatory rant” (Sam Whiting).

    your “self indulgence and self involvement” is evidenced by your posting ad hominem rants with no support. You are so self involved that you cannot even recognize that you never even made a clear and relevant argument beyond name calling. Perhaps if you were not so self absorbed in your anachronistic fantasies you might have noticed that you actually said nothing.
    Felix Quigley Said:

    the Hobbesist (Mr Ross)

    Please explain yourself, are you referring to Hobbes of “calvin and hobbes” or perhaps tommy? even if you could show this assertion to have any wings where would the relEvance be in relation to MY assertions?
    Felix Quigley Said:

    The fact that the International capitalist system as well as the Stalinist Bureaucracies in Russia and China walked all over Internatioonal Law – should then the Jews as represented in Israel do the same thing?

    Are you engaged in a facetious rhetorical oxymoron or merely attemPting to make another non assertion? Law evolves from agreement and International Law especially is grounded in agreement and treaty. When an agreement is materially breached it is a principle of Law that the agreement may be declared null and void. Therefore, breached agreements are without legal imperative. furthermore, when law proceeds to the stage of enforce-ability it depends upon power. In the case of current international law wrt Israel corruption has perverted “law” and instead made the decisions of purported “legal” institutions to be merely consensus. Therefore again there is no legal imperative to follow, only the threats of raw power. As I made clear in my arguments, such a state of affairs means that there SHOULD NOT BE any reliance on the misnomered institutions of international law and instead Israel should proceed, as their counterparts, on a purely self interested basis.

    Maintaining a defense industry in the face of threats is an economic burden which israel currently counters with aid and sales but with sanctions the industry will have to grow without the aid and sales and in order to survive such an outcome Israel would need to become self sufficient until the threats disappear. In such a scenario it is wise to gain access to resources AND to DAMAGE the enemy so as to weaken his resolve to pursue his hostile agenda. One cannot rely alone on the hope of the muslims destroying the european enemy who libels Israel and supports her destruction. It is wise to have a plan B.

    What is your suggestion for Israel in the face of the threats of sanction, the threats of destruction by the soviet supported persians, the european attacks on Israel, etc.? Give us your realistic solution, your plan B for what appears to be a potential realistic scenario.

    My suggestions were based on an assessment that sanctions and hostilities from the west might occur, do the same and present your “REALISM”.

  4. If Russian History, World Wars 1 and 2 have taught us nothing else, it is that acquisition of another sovereign State’s territory by war is, in the medium-to-long-run, doomed to failure. Any Israeli expansionism beyond the natural boundaries from the Jordan river to the sea and the Heights on the north is doomed to failure, in my opinion. Another’s opinion may differ.

    @ Economist:
    I agree. Also I far prefer to have Egypt contend with terrorists in the Sinai rather than us.

    This is also the area of land which was finally settled on by the League of Nations Mandate to Britain to create on that the Jewish Homeland. According to Howard Grief who is an expert it was settled by International Law in 1922.

    The fact that the International capitalist system as well as the Stalinist Bureaucracies in Russia and China walked all over Internatioonal Law – should then the Jews as represented in Israel do the same thing?

    Surely that is a very weighty issue.Acording to Grief the ceding of Golan to France was an illegal act in itself. Mr Ross you should not allow your subjective idealism and conspiracy theory peddling run amok and should listen to those who have a grasp of reality such as Ted and “Economist”. It is interesting that the Hobbesist (Mr Ross) meets the Stalinist (speaking from the “Mount”!!!)

    Was the Golan decision to partition and exclude Transjordan (78 per cent) also illegal? It seems to me that Grief suggests it was unethical but in International Law not illegal but I am not sure onthat.

  5. Economist Said:

    If Russian History, World Wars 1 and 2 have taught us nothing else, it is that acquisition of another sovereign State’s territory by war is, in the medium-to-long-run, doomed to failure.

    I tend to disagree, as the medium to long run has not yet arrived. In the scheme of things 100 years is nothing. A number of the so-called sovereign states you refer to did not exist 100 years ago and empires existed before for many centuries. it is an error in evaluating history to operate on beliefs. There is no real historical evidence that as a general principle taking, holding and ruling land is doomed to failure. Many trends of the past 60-70 years are actually now appearing to be in turmoil or disintegration. The west promotes its global “moral values” but is losing ground to those promoting the opposite. Who is to say that we are not now beginning to see the reappearance, after a very short time in historical terms, of the doctrine of might makes right. Right now we are looking at 100 years worth of new “sovereign” nations which are now falling completely to pieces whereas the prior caliphate lasted 100’s of years.
    I agree with Arnold Harris on almost everything he wrote and especially any concept that recognizes that reality trumps hope dreamy. Military might and land will determine Israels future and the current world trends seem to favor the reassertion of military might over the short failed attempt at global “ethical” institutions. The failure of the UN, ICC, UNHRC wrt Israel are the best demonstration of the future of recent trends towards the success of an ethical world. Globalism may advance but its success will be based on power, money and interests.
    As for the current article it appears to treat the media manipulation of anti semitism as a large series of coincidences rather than as an orchestrated, directed, organized unfolding of events. As it stands the Jews are unable to identify their enemies and targets for attack because they are unable to identify the puppet strings and money trails behind the scenes.
    Although I support hasbara and lawfare I support it as a form of weaponry designed to damage ones enemies rather than as an appeal to their better senses.
    The Jews must wake up and see that these events are NOT happenstance and that there are specific targets for attack using all forms of war, and especially covert forms. Israel is in a position to realized the returns on its decades of defense focus by taking a self-interested and aggressive posture; it is in a position to directly influence the energy resources of the world through power.

  6. @ ArnoldHarris:

    If you falter now, and divert your attention to meaningless and squalid efforts to attempt to make the world love you, then how will you ever have the consciousness of hardened steel necessary to carry out such a planned national aggression…

    That is exactly the point. I agree totally with everything you wrote. And even in the Diaspora, we Jews should make great efforts to become like “hardened steel”.

  7. @ Ted Belman:
    Ted,

    The day shall come when Egypt no longer is under control of a sane, rational and mostly secular military leader who is sufficiently strong and willing to put down that country’s Moslem Brotherhood, which I suppose is one of the earliest continuation movements of the original Wahhabists. What do you think shall happen then in the Sinai, in regard to Israel’s interests? That is all you and I should care about.

    In any case, the whole of the Sinai covers some 25,000 square miles, whereas an Israel that includes all Yesha covers only about 10,000 square miles. Israel possibly faces little wars without end, if not larger wars. That is Israel’s past, present and future, if you observe all this in its stark reality, which is precisely what I have schooled myself to do.

    And from my eyes and the consciousness of what I think I know, the Israel and the Jewish nation of the future requires a much larger homeland. I don’t really care if Israel has to purchase that land area, or take it in outright conquest, or or even grow into it little by little such as Israel is now doing in Area C. For my kind of Jewish nationalism, the land is everything, and the means of obtaining it matter to me not at all.

    I fully understand that for you lawyers, nothing like what I describe here squares with the way you have been schooled to think, or what the nicer Jews of the salons consider to be the ethics of relations between nations. Which is one reason that the only lawyers I ever vote for here in the USA are those whom I think are clever crooks who would serve my own interests. And my interests in regard to the Jewish nation require recognition and acceptance of territorial imperatives of the Jewish state. I want the Jews of the future to act exactly as the Arabs proclaim us — land-takers on a scale grand enough to be classed with all other successful land-grabbing nations of history. That notably includes the great land thieves of your Canada and my United States of America. As for the Russians, I only lost respect for them when they started giving away parts of the western and southwest Russian heartland that Putin is now redeeming for his great nation.

    How does it feel to have one of your readers respond to you with harsh, cold-blooded, eyes-wide-open truths of the way the world really works, which includes the world of the Jews, the Arabs, and everyone else on this planet?

    And no, Ted, I never suffer any illusions about Tikun HaOlam, whioch I think is a ridiculous concept because it is as unachievable as immortality.

    Arnold Harris
    Mount Horeb WI

  8. EG The chief editor of the NYT is viciously anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli, Canada’s Globe and Mail is the same.
    So what ! In the scheme of power they are disposable nobodies – the people that hire them, the people that pressure the people that hire them, the interrelated business partners that want them to be hired – those are the people that are important.
    ..
    All this “Israpundit” stuff and not one person here can has any idea what is the the structure of power in Israel or the USA they are confused and try to explain away everything with ideology and surface politics.
    Ideology is slave to power.
    The politicians are the minions of power not the representatives of the people.
    If someone could dump the bank account informations of the elite economic players and the politicians to the public – the jig would be up. The scope of the corruption and deceit is so vast awareness of it would give the country would permanent PTSD.

  9. He said nothing. How is it the whole population has a hole in their mind including everyone here.
    Everyone already knows how it is done those details are irrelevant.
    Ownership!!!!
    ?????????????????????????????????
    History is written by the winners and the owners.
    Who directs it? What are the financial connections between the Israeli Elite, The North American Elite and the ownership of the each media outlet.
    Ownership and control that is what matters – that is why the perceptions of the entire population of both the globe and Israel is distorted – those who own the propaganda are the ones who also own the county.
    Blindness, sheer blindness – looking in all the wrong places. The Western world is not run by ideology – it is run by power and then power writes the ideology. Ideology is disposable grease for power.
    The writer here drowned in ideology and never saw the power.

  10. If Russian History, World Wars 1 and 2 have taught us nothing else, it is that acquisition of another sovereign State’s territory by war is, in the medium-to-long-run, doomed to failure. Any Israeli expansionism beyond the natural boundaries from the Jordan river to the sea and the Heights on the north is doomed to failure, in my opinion. Another’s opinion may differ.

  11. Ted, here we go yet again and again and again:

    “Why aren’t the Israelis, or Jews anywhere, able to win the hasbarot propaganda wars? How come the world is always so stacked against Israel? Why? Why? Why? Why? Oh, the unfairness of it all….”

    The answer, I firmly contend, is that it is a waste of time and resources attempting to convince a world whose populations largely either barely tolerates, despises or actively hates Jews in general, and is caught with their mouths agape when Jews fight back as the Jewish state did in those six glorious and all but magical days in 148, 1956, 1967, and 1973.

    Most of them — maybe even all of them, somewhere in the recesses of their own national consciousness, expect Jews to act like the pack of cringing and whining dogs that, in their consciousness, the world knew for almost 2000 years. A nation integral to itself but one that had lost its own homeland and therefore had to encroach on the homelands of anybody else, and maybe even everybody else. That had to have been the most unnatural existence in the entirety of human history, and you all know the price the Jewish people paid for it, not excluding the Nazi system of planned national extinction.

    There is only one course of action that counts in this present struggle, and only one such course. This is the territorial imperative of the Jewish nation. That is the need to expand the land borders of the State of Israel, which can only be accomplished by large scale and continuous settlement of Jews in such a way that nobody ever shall be able to stop Israel from controlling all the land from the Jordan River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, and from the now-dangerous border of southern Lebanon in the north to the Gulf of Eilat and Sinai border in the south.

    But even that provides only a strengthened base from which further expansions one day will be both mandatory and eminently possible. Because in the very long run, if Israel is to survive as a nation-state, it shall require control over the lands from the Gulf of Suez to the Syrian desert. And that imperative shall require Israel to take and hold southern Lebanon in the north and the much of the deserts southward from Eilat at least to the Straits of Tiran.

    All that shall require planned national aggression and aggrandizement such as shocks the typically liberal sentiments of Jews everywhere, irrespective of their political tendencies. But what do any of you think will happen if you fail to create a much greater and more powerful Jewish state now, while you have more active enemies at war with you than anyone else in the world, but also the means to take over and keep significant parts of the ancient Jewish homeland?

    If you falter now, and divert your attention to meaningless and squalid efforts to attempt to make the world love you, then how will you ever have the consciousness of hardened steel necessary to carry out such a planned national aggression that if and when some deceptive and strictly temporary peace seems possible, and ultimately proves to be just another illusion that Jews always seem to fall for so readily?

    All of the above probably sounds like some crazed form of fascism from which Jews have been bred to abhor. But call me whatever you wish, I try to write the truth as I think I can clearly see it. And that truth is just this: There is neither justice nor peace nor love or admiration for the weak. That, throughout human history, has been reserved solely for the strong and sometimes the cruel. If you want the Jewish nation to survive in its singularity, you must all learn to adapt to the world as it is, and acquire some serious and widespread national power, before you can even imagine you can make any progress in fixing it.

    Therefore successfully-marshaled Jewish strength and in cases of Israel’s land wars, Jewish conquest, are all that I wish for the Jewish nation of my birth and my lifetime of loyalty. Because there never is and never shall be any other answer.

    Shabat shalom, but keep your ammunition dry, your guns loaded, and learn to kill them with the same lack of hesitation they would and shall apply to you, if you let them do so.

    Arnold Harris
    Mount Horeb WI