Thursday, July 24, 2014


Color by Tom Behrens

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mouin Rabbani  in the LRB "Israel Mows the Lawn"
In 2004, a year before Israel’s unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip, Dov Weissglass, éminence grise to Ariel Sharon, explained the initiative’s purpose to an interviewer from Haaretz:
The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process … And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. And all this with … a [US] presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress … The disengagement is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.
In 2006 Weissglass was just as frank about Israel’s policy towards Gaza’s 1.8 million inhabitants: ‘The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.’ He was not speaking metaphorically: it later emerged that the Israeli defence ministry had conducted detailed research on how to translate his vision into reality, and arrived at a figure of 2279 calories per person per day – some 8 per cent less than a previous calculation because the research team had originally neglected to account for ‘culture and experience’ in determining nutritional ‘red lines’.

...The screws were turned tighter during the 2000-5 uprising, and in 2007 the Gaza Strip was effectively sealed shut. All exports were banned, and just 131 truckloads of foodstuffs and other essential products were permitted entry per day. Israel also strictly controlled which products could and could not be imported. Prohibited items have included A4 paper, chocolate, coriander, crayons, jam, pasta, shampoo, shoes and wheelchairs.

In 2010, commenting on this premeditated and systematic degradation of the humanity of an entire population, David Cameron characterised the Gaza Strip as a ‘prison camp’ and – for once – did not neuter this assessment by subordinating his criticism to proclamations about the jailers’ right of self-defence against their inmates.

Israel’s agenda has been different. Had it been determined to end Hamas rule it could easily have done so, particularly while Hamas was still consolidating its control over Gaza in 2007, and without necessarily reversing the 2005 disengagement. Instead, it saw the schism between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority as an opportunity to further its policies of separation and fragmentation, and to deflect growing international pressure for an end to an occupation that has lasted nearly half a century. Its massive assaults on the Gaza Strip in 2008-9 (Operation Cast Lead) and 2012 (Operation Pillar of Defence), as well as countless individual attacks between and since, were in this context exercises in what the Israeli military called ‘mowing the lawn’: weakening Hamas and enhancing Israel’s powers of deterrence. As the 2009 Goldstone Report and other investigations have demonstrated, often in excruciating detail, the grass consists overwhelmingly of non-combatant Palestinian civilians, indiscriminately targeted by Israel’s precision weaponry.

Israel’s current assault on the Gaza Strip, which began on 6 July with ground forces moving in some ten days later, is intended to serve the same agenda. The conditions for it were set in late April. ...
read the rest

Monday, July 21, 2014


It's Auden, September 1st 1939. A very strange choice.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

I had a different post up but I didn't read carefully. As a reference it's a comparison of Israel not to the Nazis but to Hitler himself -he lived most of his childhood in Linz- and the attack on Gaza to the invasion of Poland. But it's more than a reference. Does the mixture of sadness and fatalism take the view of the aggressor?

The world is just a barrel-organ which the Lord God turns Himself.
We all have to dance to the tune which is already on the drum.

I first read MJ Rosenberg at TPM. Both of them posted and deleted posts, for the same reasons.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

"The blacks in America are the first to abjure the idea of assimilation, to realize the inherent lie in the concept of melting pot. Through black nationalism has developed a new black pride and hence the ticket to liberation"


POLLYWANACRAKA

I gotta story to tell you all about a neighborhood I know
A situation you might find interesting, listen-up

She wants a lover right now
But not no brother
Her man gotta have a lotta money
To get under her cover
Now she's a fine sister
But up here she's missin' it
She says she wanna learn about life
No old black bull shit
At the age of 15 a brother gave her a baby
She's 19 now and it drove her crazy
And now everytime
She turns around
All the people in the neighborhood
Look and get mand and sing

CHORUS

Meet Mr. Successful
I guess he's blessed yeah
But he happens to be a brother
Who only wants blue eyes and blonde hair
Now this young mister
He don't like sisters
He couldn't find that special one
He know why he missed her
He says sisters wasn't good enuff
They only wanted his green stuff
That's why everytime he turned
Around all the people
In the neighborhood
Looked and got mad
And sang

CHORUS

I try to tell my people
There should not be any hatred
For a brother or a sister
Whose opposite race they've mated
No man is God
And God put us all here (yeah)
But this system has no wisdom
The devil split us in pairs
And taught us White is good, Black is bad
And Black and White is still too bad
That's why everytime I turn around
All the people in my neighborhood
Look mad and sing....

CHORUS

I don't know
---

PE were never fascist. Their songs document the temptations of fascism just as they document the temptations of celebrity. Honesty is key, and in the end fascism is never honest.

Moral Realism as Moral Relativism - The Nuremberg Laws or the Final Solution in Gaza

"The leading legal philosopher in Israel" draws the line.

"Controversy over an Israeli scholar's "legal opinion" justifying cutting off water and electricity to Gaza."

Response and exchange.

Leiter: "David Enoch, the leading legal philosopher in Israel, who teaches on both the law and philosophy faculties at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, writes":
Apparently, one of the measures considered by the Israeli government against the Hamas in Gaza is to cut off Israeli supply of water and electric power to Gaza (which pretty much consists of all of the supply of water and power to Gaza). Israeli government lawyers are apparently opposed to such measures.

Here ends the good news, though, because right-wing members of the Israeli Knesset have found the legal scholar who would write an opinion permitting such practices: Professor Avi Bell, from Bar Ilan University and the University of San Diego School of Law, has written such an opinion. (Though he refused to share it with me, I now have a copy, and I’ll be happy to share it with anyone who may be interested; I should say, though, that it’s in Hebrew) An item about this appeared in the daily Haaretz.
Enoch is the author of Taking Morality Seriously: A Defense of Robust Realism
ABSTRACT
This book develops, argues for, and defends a strongly realist and objectivist view of ethics and normativity more broadly. This view — according to which there are perfectly objective, universal, moral, and other normative truths that are not in any way reducible to other, natural truths — is familiar, but this book is the first in-detail development of the positive motivations for the view into full-fledged arguments. And when the book turns defensive — defending Robust Realism against traditional objections — it mobilizes the original positive arguments for the view to help with fending off the objections. The main underlying motivation for Robust Realism developed in the book is that no other metaethical view can vindicate our taking morality seriously. The positive arguments developed here — the argument from the deliberative indispensability of normative truths, and the argument from the moral implications of metaethical objectivity (or its absence) — are thus arguments for Robust Realism that are sensitive to the underlying, pre-theoretical motivations for the view.
From Enoch's page. Click on the first link below before continuing.
My book Taking Morality Seriously: A Defense of Robust Realism was published in 2011. A paperback edition is supposed to come out any day now. Here's the publisher's website for it. And here it is on Oxford Scholarship Online, where you can also find the abstracts of each chapter.
For the first commentary on the book -- inspired by the picture linked above -- see David Heyd's Victorian Children's Story
 The final link is to a MSWord Doc. I'm reposted in its entirety below.
Taking Morality Seriously
A Victorian Children’s Story
By
David Enoch
(Simplified for real children by David Heyd)

Once upon a time there was a child whose dad had an obsession: he thought people are threatening morality by not taking it seriously enough. So he left everything and went to defend morality almost single handedly. He was so serious in his defense that he did not have time to read his child bedtime stories, spending much of his time in all kinds of demonstrations against all kinds of evil. When he realized that there is no way that he can defend morality in real life, he was shrewd enough to opt for defending it in a book. That made the child feel even worse, since now his dad was busy all day at the computer and in faraway conferences.

When the book came out, dad was cruel enough to read it to his child before sleep. The little child was sure that if his father had such tough time defending morality, its enemies must have been extremely powerful.

So the child asked, “Dad, what is morality?”. The father answered, “that you be a good boy”. “But I am a good boy” answered the angelic son, “why should everybody attack morality and force you to defend it so vigorously?”. “There are strange and evil people who are called expressivists, although they can hardly express themselves, and constructivists who should rather be called destructivists”, said dad. “You should take care when you meet them since they will call you “queer” and you know how bad this word is.

“But dad, I have had nightmares dreaming about all kinds of bad people – a coarse guard, a Simon who is black and burns, and someone who looks like Mackie the Knife – all taking morality very lightly; what shall I do?”. Loving dad said to his child, “this is only in your head; these bad guys are not real; they are only shadows?”. He kissed his son robustly and promised him that after hearing dad’s story, he will fall asleep and this time will see in his dreams moral facts rather than constructions and expressive attitudes. But before falling asleep, the child whispered, “Dad, can I see moral facts also when I wake up in the morning?”. “No”, said dad sternly, “you see them only in two places: in dreams and in my book”.
Enoch is thanked in the first sentence of the preface of A Just Zionism: On the Morality of the Jewish State, by Chaim Gans
The book presents an analysis of the justice of Zionism. After a short historical introduction, the first two chapters discuss the justifiability of Zionism's defining principles: its ethnocultural nature and the principle calling for the Jewish return to the Land of Israel, which is mainly based on the historical rights argument and the defense of necessity. It is argued that if these principles are properly interpreted, they are compatible with liberal justice. Chapter 3 argues that the hegemonic interpretation of Jewish self-determination common in Israel is justified only circumstantially and is applicable only to the domains of demography and security. Chapter 4 discusses the implications of this limited hegemony for the arrangements between Israel and the Palestinian people outside Israel. Specifically, it addresses the implications of the justice of Zionism with regard to the Palestinian demand for the return of Palestinian refugees to Israel, and some arguments concerning the just borders between Israel and a future Palestinian state. Chapter 5 spells out the implications of the limited hegemony conception of Jewish self-determination for internal Israeli policies. It deals with issues related to the inequality between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel. The concluding chapter sums up the main points of the book and explains how Israel's implementation of a just version of Zionist ideology today would affect not only Zionism's moral standing in the present and in the future but also the legitimacy of Israel's reliance on the justice of the Zionist past.
The ghost of Panofsky, "Whichever book you open, you will find precisely the passage you need":
Chaim Gans, today in Haaretz Zionist settlers are wrong - but so are the post-Zionists

Hannah Arendt responds to Scholem
How right you are that I have no such love, and for two reasons: first, I have never in my life "loved" some nation or collective — not the German, French or American nation, or the working class, or whatever else might exist. The fact is that I love only my friends and am quite incapable of any other sort of love. Second, this kind of love for the Jews would seem suspect to me, since I’ve Jewish myself. I don’t love myself or anything I know belongs to the substance of my being… [T]he magnificence of this people once lay in its belief in God — that is, in the way its trust and love of God far outweighed its fear of God. And now this people believes only in itself? In this sense I don’t love the Jews, nor do I "believe" in them…. We would both agree that patriotism is impossible without constant opposition and critique. In this entire affair I can confess to you one thing: the injustice committed by my own people naturally provokes me more than injustice done by others.
"What do you think of the Jews?"
"They’ve put before them graven images."
"Images of what?"
"Themselves."

And again, updating every day. These are the images from Gaza that are too graphic for many US news outlets to publish.  Enoch is not protesting this. My note to Leiter: "If [as he argues] the law is only law and has no relation to morality then it is our moral obligation at this point to speak of morality and not of law."

Zionism as pathology. Idealism in the face of the world of events rationalizes from personal preference, collapsing ideal and self.
"I took the children with me, for they are too good for the life that would follow, and a merciful God will understand me when I will give them the salvation ... The children are wonderful ... there never is a word of complaint nor crying. The impacts are shaking the bunker. The elder kids cover the younger ones, their presence is a blessing and they are making the Führer smile once in a while. May God help that I have the strength to perform the last and hardest. We only have one goal left: loyalty to the Führer even in death. Harald, my dear son — I want to give you what I learned in life: be loyal! Loyal to yourself, loyal to the people and loyal to your country ... Be proud of us and try to keep us in dear memory ..."
The ghost of Panofsky. Often enough to deserve its own tag.
repeat, from 2010

July 15th

The scene was both pathetic and outrageous. The last of Netanyahu's devoted followers, who believe he is the man who will bring peace, would have immediately changed their minds. Presidents Barack Obama and Shimon Peres, who continue to maintain that Netanyahu will bring peace, would be talking differently had they seen this secretly filmed video clip. Even the objection of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to conducting direct negotiations with the man from the video would be understandable. What is there to discuss with a huckster whose sole purpose is "to give 2 percent in order to prevent 100 percent," as his father told him, quoting his grandfather.
September 26
Benjamin Netanyahu appears to be the winner of the construction-freeze crisis: The 10-month suspension of building in the settlements will not be extended and the prime minister has given up nothing. Peace talks with the Palestinians will continue, the coalition is as strong as ever, and the government enjoys some freedom of movement regarding the settlers and the U.S. administration.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, his threats to the contrary, will not scuttle the peace talks that have barely begun just because Netanyahu isn't extending the freeze. U.S. President Barack Obama, preaching for the moratorium to continue, can't force it on Netanyahu on the eve of the congressional elections when his party's leaders are calling for negotiations to continue without regard to the settlements.
Abbas gives up, Natanyahu gets what he wants and the Palestinians are blamed for any violence that results, because Israel is a "nation" and nations have "laws" and their opposition is a group of people without title. One more time:
Imagine a beach and a small group of people sitting on blankets having lunch. Another group comes onto the beach a few feet away and sets up a volleyball net between themselves and the first group. They start lobbing volleyballs over the net that all go unreturned. When the count of unreturned balls reaches 25 the second group declares the game over and themselves the winners. Another group arrives, friends of the second and wanting "their turn." They tell the first group to move so that they can play. A rule book is consulted and it is decided that the first group lost their game and have no right to occupy the "volleyball court". The police are called and they are removed by force.
And building never stopped
In the third quarter of 2009, before the restrictions were imposed last November, there were 2,790 settlement homes in various stages of construction, according to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics. The number rose to 2,955 in the last quarter of 2009, reflecting a last-minute surge of housing starts in the days leading up to the freeze.
In the first quarter of 2010, with the freeze in full effect, the number stood at 2,517.
That means that even months into the halt, the number of homes under construction had declined by only about 10 percent.
I've repeated the volleyball scenario four times now. This is how I ended it the first time, in January 2009.
Demands are made that the Palestinians abide by all the restrictions of law but they're offered none of the benefits. It's as if a woman were accused of biting her rapist.
The deaths of Palestinians are called "heartbreaking." The deaths of Israelis are called a crime. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

"Rawls isn't interested in people. He's interested in ideas!"

still updating, every day
These are the images from Gaza that are too graphic for many US news outlets to publish
We're reliving the late 19th century, or the beginning of the 20th.
---

repeats: Geuss on Rawls, stating what should always have been obvious. A regretful pedant commenting on an earnest and unreflective one.
One can easily imagine a person confronted with the events of the Second World War being motivated to ask various questions, for instance about European history, about the dynamics of political systems under stress, about the economics of competitive international markets, about human social psychology and the structure of collective action. What, however, would one have to believe about the world to think that "What is the correct conception of justice?" is the appropriate question to ask in the face of concentration camps, secret police, and the firebombing of cities? Are reflections about the correct distirbution of goods and services in a "well-ordered society" the right kind of intellectual response to slavery, torture, and mass murder? Was the problem in the Third Reich that people in extermination camps didn't get the slice of the economic pie that they ought to have had, if everyone had discussed the matter freely and under the right conditions? Should political philosophy really be essentially about questions of fairness of distribution of resources? Aren't security and the control of violence far more important? How about the coordination of action, the sharing of information, the cultivation of trust, the development and deployment of human individual and social capacities, the management of relations of power and authority, the balancing of the demands of stability and reform, the provision for a viable social future?
While Rome burns. Two posts on recent events by echt-Rawslian, Harry Brighouse

Why “Ann Coulter” would love cricket,
I don’t mind football, I’ve even come to enjoy watching it a bit as a result of my daughter’s enthusiasm, but I do enjoy the odd rant against it, and have always found it funny that Americans assume that because of my accent I have a favorite team and know the offside rule (I don’t have a favorite team, but I do know the offside rule, though my knowing it is rather like my ability to recall the entire cast of the Love Boat, the result of an unhealthy tendency to remember entirely unimportant things that I don’t care about).
Uncensored  (a link to the reading of a poem by Sigfried Sassoon.)
You told me, in your drunken-boasting mood,
How once you butchered prisoners. That was good!
I'm sure you felt no pity while they stood
Patient and cowed and scared, as prisoners should.
So much art

Helena Cobban, in 2006. nothing's changed
"On Human Shields (and Human Rights Watch)"
I’ve been having a bit of an email exchange today with Sarah Leah Whitson, the director of the Middle East Division of Human Rights Watch, over their decision, yesterday, to rush out a press release criticising the Gazans’ latest use of nonviolent mass action to halt Israel’s resumed practice of punitive home demolitions in Gaza. 
The text of the HRW press release is now available on-line. It is titled OPT: Civilians Must Not Be Used to Shield Homes Against Military Attacks. 
In Sarah Leah’s emails to me she has stressed two points: (1) The point, also made in the press release, that ““Whether or not the home is a legitimate military target, knowingly asking civilians to stand in harm’s way is unlawful.” And (2) that for Palestinian military commanders, in particular, to ask civilians to act as “human shields” in this way represented an unlawful attempt to pur civilians at potential risk. 
I have pointed out to her that by these lights, for Mandela (who was a military commander, much more than Ismail Haniyeh– who was quoted in the HRW release– ever was) to call for South Africa’s non-whites to engage in nonviolent mass actions against the apartheid regime, which were often very risky indeed, would also likewise have been considered “unlawful” or even– as HRW grandiosely terms the situation in Gaza “a war crime.”
Holbo
I think Zizek’s jokes are badly told and have, on the whole, a bad effect. The life of the mind is lived marginally worse, thanks to his energetic interventions.
Holbo's still happily ensconced in Singapore. Chart his interests by charting the issues he avoids. The same is true for all of them.

Zizek for the LRB. The plagiarism's nothing.
repeat: his weaknesses picked apart, in Ramallah. There are far worse.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

An Associate Professor of Political Science

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

John Snow, Channel 4 Impressive.
A ludicrous figure
We are living in a time of exploding nationalisms. The blacks in America are the first to abjure the idea of assimilation, to realize the inherent lie in the concept of melting pot. Through black nationalism has developed a new black pride and hence the ticket to liberation

Today’s young American Jew is a good bit slower. He desperately wants assimilation: Jewishness embarrasses him. He finds the idea of Jewish nationalism, Israel not­ withstanding, laughable. The leftist Jewish student is today’s Uncle Tom. He scrapes along, demons­trating for a John Hatchett, asham­ed of his identity, and obsessed with it. He cannot accept the fact that he is seen as a Jew, that his destiny is that of the Jews, and that his only effectiveness is as a Jew. But he wants to be an “American,” a left­ist American, talking liberation and aspiring WASP. He is a ludicrous figure. 
"Max, Phil & Scott" are Blumenthal, Weiss and Scott Roth, publisher of Mondoweiss.
He cannot accept the fact that he is seen as a Jew, that his destiny is that of the Jews, and that his only effectiveness is as a Jew.
The ethnic nationalism and self-hated of Clarence Thomas.
“I don’t think this society has ever been color-blind. I grew up in Savannah, Georgia under segregation. It wasn’t color-blind and America is not color-blind today…Code words like ‘color-blind’ aren’t all that useful.” 
"here is nothing you can do to get past black skin. I don’t care how educated you are, how good you are—you’ll never have the same contacts or opportunities, you’ll never be seen as equal to whites."
The link's to Corey Robin, who has his own confusion. It's all as obvious as the relation of Farrakhan and Kahane, the Nazis and Stern, and Otto Weininger.

Rosenberg: repeats. The second time I made him regret something he posted.
Screen grab from google cache.  I'd forgotten that Kampeas didn't understand the problem either.

all repeats all the time. it's a nice paragraph
The point is not to attack technocrats as such, but to make clear that technocracy sees the instance as subsidiary to the general, and that transposed as academic idealism the idea or aggregate becomes not only the primary object of practical concern but a primary moral value in itself, reversing the older logic of the humanities. It also makes certain policy positions seem not only appropriate but justified on grounds of liberalism. And it's where left and old right rebel against utilitarianism and the idea of the individual in defense of actual individual experience.
still updating every day:
Images from Gaza that are too graphic for many US news outlets to publish

Everything below is a repeat, again and again:

Monday 19 November 2012
On the flight between Burma and Cambodia, Ben Rhodes, the White House national security adviser, replying to a reporter's question about what the US strategy is, said: "Our position continues to be that those nations in the region, particularly nations that have influence over Hamas, and that's principally Egypt and Turkey, also Qatar … that those nations need to use that influence to de-escalate the conflict. And de-escalation has to begin with, again, an end to rocket fire from Gaza."
repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and...

1 - 2008
"Well, they started squeezing Hamas almost immediately. Originally, in the weeks right after the late-January election, Hamas wanted to form a relatively moderate government that would include a large number of political "independents" under the leadership of Hamas's Ismail Haniyeh as Prime Minister. But as I know-- because I was the conduit of one of these threats-- threats of lethal violence were sent by the Israelis to any Palestinian "independents" who might be even considering joining a Haniyeh-led government. As a result, none of them did; and the government that Haniyeh ended up forming was 100% Hamas.

[HC in reply to a comment] I have written about it before. It was Ziad. The threat was conveyed to me by Ziad's and my mutual friend Ze'ev Schiff, a decent man who had been extremely close to successive generations of the leaders of Israel's security establishment for half a century before his death last year.

To be specific, when I spoke with Ze'ev on the phone before I went to Gaza in March 2006-- and he did help me to get in-- he asked if I was going to see Ziad, who was then widely reported to be considering an offer from Hamas to be Haniyeh's Foreign Minister (as he subsequently became, during the brief life of the 2007 national unity government.) I said yes. He said-- and he repeated this a couple of times to make sure I got the meaning clear-- that I should tell Ziad he would face "the worst possible consequences" if he joined the Haniyeh government, and that he said this "on good authority."

I did pass the message on to Ziad.

Ziad also faced considerable family-based pressure from the Americans since his three children from his first marriage were at college here in the US, and I suppose if he had joined the Haniyeh government and then tried to visit them here he could be arraigned on all kinds of charges of aiding and abetting terrorists. But Ze'ev's words about "the worst possible consequences" struck me as constituting a more severe and immediate threat.
2 - 2008
Regarding the Tahdiya [calm], Hacham said Barak stressed that while it was not permanent, for the time being it was holding. There have been a number of violations of the ceasefire on the Gaza side, but Palestinian factions other than Hamas were responsible. Hacham said the Israelis assess that Hamas is making a serious effort to convince the other factions not to launch rockets or mortars. Israel remains concerned by Hamas' ongoing efforts to use the Tahdiya to increase their strength, and at some point, military action will have to be put back on the table….
3 - 2010
Hamas in Gaza tried to ease tension with Israel and Egypt Tuesday, urging other Palestinians to stop firing rockets into the western Negev and promising Cairo answers over the shooting of an Egyptian soldier at the border.

Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the Islamist movement's government in the coastal enclave, said other armed groups in the Gaza Strip should observe what has amounted to a ceasefire since Israel's major offensive a year ago. That, Haniyeh said, was in the interests of protecting Gazans from Israeli attacks.

On Monday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak had warned Hamas to rein in its allies "or else" - a threat of more Israeli action.

Rocket fire by smaller groups Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees, and Israeli air strikes that killed several Palestinians, made the past two weeks among the most violent since the three-week war that killed 13 Israelis and over 1,400 Palestinians before a ceasefire in mid-January 2009.
4 - 2011


5 - 2011

Issandr El Amrani at Arabist: "Please take 15m of your time and watch this excruciating video of last Thursday's State Dept. briefing."


Exchange with Matt Lee:
QUESTION: But do you see going to the UN as anathema to an approach in getting them – why can’t it be embraced as part of an approach to get them back to the table instead of being viewed as an enemy of getting them back to the table? 
MR. TONER: Well, Matt, again, what we’ve tried to be clear all along here is that our focus, and we believe the parties’ focus, should be in direct negotiations because it’s only by dealing with these issues through direct negotiations that they’re going to reach a settlement. So one-off actions in New York don’t accomplish anything at the end of the day. 
QUESTION: But why can’t you -- 
MR. TONER: We’re going to continue to work today, tomorrow, through New York to get the parties back to the negotiating table. But our position all along – I don’t know how it could be more clear – is that we think these -- 
QUESTION: It can’t be any more clear. I’m not asking you what your position is. 
MR. TONER: We think these -- 
QUESTION: I’m asking why you lack the creativity to use this as leverage to get them back to the negotiating table, instead of trying to fight a losing battle in which you’re going to be the only – you’re going to be isolated, the Israelis are going to be isolated, because if they go to the General Assembly, they’re going to win. 
MR. TONER: Precisely because -- 
QUESTION: So why don’t -- 
MR. TONER: -- because we think it’s -- 
QUESTION: Why isn’t there anyone in this Administration that has the brainpower, the creativity, to use this as a positive thing to build momentum instead of regarding it as completely a negative thing? 
MR. TONER: Because it’s counterproductive. 
QUESTION: Well -- QUESTION: But that’s -- 
QUESTION: Why is it – it’s counterproductive to you. To the Palestinians, it gives them some kind of hope, some kind of confidence, that when they do sit down – let me finish – when they do sit down at the negotiating table, that they have more leverage than some kind of nonentity that they’re treated as now.
6 -  Daily Press Briefing: July 3, 2012

Video at the link is queued up to this exchange: The questioner is Matt Lee.
*MS. NULAND:*  We have no reason to believe that it [Human Rights Watch report on Syria] is not credible. It’s based on eyewitness accounts, and they’re reporting from a broad cross-section of human rights figures inside Syria. 
*QUESTION:*  So the next time Human Rights Watch comes out with a report that’s critical of Israel for its treatment of the Palestinians, I’ll assume that you’re going to be saying the same thing, correct; that you think that the report is credible, it’s based on eyewitness accounts? 
*MS. NULAND:* As -- 
*QUESTION:* And you’re not going to say that it’s politically motivated and should be dismissed? 
*MS. NULAND: * Matt, as you have made clear again and again in this room, we are not always consistent. 
*QUESTION:* So, in other words, anything that Human Rights Watch says that is critical of someone you don’t like, that’s okay; but once they criticize someone that you do like, then it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on?
*MS. NULAND:*  Matt, I’m not going to get into colloquy on this one.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Nice thing about twitter: If you embed a tweet and it's deleted, the text stays.
The last time there was a ceasefire, the first three months saw 0 rockets and over 100 Israeli attacks.


Argument at this level is just repetition. Boring as hell.

In a few years liberals will say they've read Ali Abunimah for years.

"No, Israel Does Not Have the Right to Self-Defense In International Law Against Occupied Palestinian Territory"

Noura Erakat in Jadaliyya
A state cannot simultaneously exercise control over territory it occupies and militarily attack that territory on the claim that it is “foreign” and poses an exogenous national security threat. In doing precisely that, Israel is asserting rights that may be consistent with colonial domination but simply do not exist under international law.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A great line becomes obvious the moment you hear it.

The Independent

Sunday, July 13, 2014

I had another post up, but it's for later. Read the one below.
Found in comments: Donald (now Deirdre) McCloskey, in 1993, reviews Alex Rosenberg,  Economics: Mathematical Politics or Science of Diminishing Returns?
Rosenberg concludes that economics as it has developed since Adam Smith does not have the same "cognitive status" as physics. Economics is not the Science of diminishing returns; on the contrary, it is mathematical politics. Its present version belongs in the department of mathematics, leaving slots in propereconomics for economists who fit better the categories of philosophy of science circa 1940.

Rosenberg argues that philosophy can dictate to economics. He points out that scien-
tists themselves impose philosophical constraints on their arguments.Many economists, for example, would agree with Rosenberg that the standard is prediction. (But the econo- mists agree, I report, because they have heard tell that philosophy of Science demands it.) 
...A second difficulty, then, is Rosenberg's undefended affection for prediction as the one demarcation between Science and nonsense. He evinces the worshipful attitude usual among philosophers toward the more prediction-oriented branches of physics. Yet sciences like geology and biology depend on prediction hardly at all. All right, retorts Rosenberg, so much for their Scientific status.

A third difficulty is that Rosenberg has not read history of science, though presuming to tell scientists how it has gone. This occupational hazard among philosophers of science is of course familiar.

Economics needs a history, which writers like Alon Kadish, John Maloney, Margaret Schabas, and Yuval Yoney are beginning to supply, beyond the whiggish tales by economists such as Mark Blaug. It needs a rhetoric and a sociology, which can inform the history, too. Does it need a philosophy? Perhaps not, at least not a philosophy depending on epistemology circa 1940.
I should give Rosenberg his own tag.

Monday, July 07, 2014

As my mother said about Rawls: "He's not interested in people. He's interested in ideas!"

updated

You could call all of this a repeat. The only difference between Iraq and Israel is that liberals in the Anglo-American sense of the term are Zionists or have friends who are. The anger against Israel is growing, but the professional class of academic technocrats who divide the world of ideas between serious and and not and people between expert and folk, lags behind.

Global Post, These are the images from Gaza that are too graphic for many US news outlets to publish  Updating, AFP/Getty etc.

This time from the horse's mouth: Israel prefers Al Qaeda to Hezbollah. Oren's defense of Israel amazingly uses all the standard colonialist arguments. Only the most historically illiterate audience would fail to see that. Anyone who refuses now to admit that Zionism is founded on colonial logic, apartheid or no, is lying.





Allan Sørensen, Middle East Correspondent, Kristeligt Dagblad on Twitter: "Sderot cinema. Israelis bringing chairs 2 hilltop in sderot 2 watch latest from Gaza. Clapping when blasts are heard."

When Bombs Receive Applause "On a hilltop a few kilometers from Gaza Israelis sit with popcorn to follow the bombing of the area."

Blumenthal: Netanyahu government knew teens were dead as it whipped up racist frenzy

J.J. Goldberg, of all people, in The Forward:
Unruly Hebron Clan Pushes Hamas — and Israel — to Brink
Ex-Shin Bet Chief: Israeli Illusions Fueled Blowup
How Politics and Lies Triggered an Unintended War in Gaza

More of the sort of repeat linked above. Henry Farrell retweets Jim Henley


It goes downhill from there. Farrell always likes claims for disinterested reason against emotionalism, even when those claims are based on manner more than data. Again, see the link at the top of the post. The tweet Henley is responding to reads: "I am anti-killing, anti-death, antiwar. I don't support Hamas, but I don't support idiotic policies of Israeli government either."


I tried to explain to Henley that Israeli behavior was both idiotic and illogical, but reason left had no room for evidence.  Henley is so emotionally invested in the success of amoral practical reason that he can't tell the Machiavellian from the pathological: the Israelis must be right technically, to allow him, while as rational as they are, to attack them for their errors in morality. He's playing word games "in the garden on the mind." His beautiful mind.
Michael: A rebel was being arrested by the military police, and rather than be taken alive, he exploded a grenade he had hidden in his jacket. He killed himself and he took a captain of the command with him...it occurred to me the soldiers are paid to fight, the rebels aren't
Roth: What does that tell you?
Michael: They can win.
"You know, you never beat us on the battlefield."
'That may be so, but it is also irrelevant." *
Bertram links to Goldberg, a right wing Zionist who -pace Henley- sees his dreams at risk. Bertram would never link to an anti-Zionist Jew let alone an Arab, even a participant in non-violent resistance. But call it progress. The comments range from decent to absurd and worse. I'd comment but I've been banned for years.

Zionism is the climate denialism of liberal politics. Given the amount of space on the page dedicated to dissecting the irrationalism of American conservatives, "agnotology" and the "Overton Window", you'd hope such people would have a richer sense of irony. I lost that hope decades ago.
I have been a lawyer for many years, and then got a chance to teach at a non-lawyerly academic institution. I loved it; I loved playing in the garden of the mind. Eventually, however, it became clear to me that academics and non-academics have very different approaches to ideas. Academics, though it sounds odd to say it, don’t take ideas seriously. For academics, ideas are games.
Henley: "I disapprove of Israel's conduct. I am simply seeing it clearly." He recommends this as an example of his clarity.

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* The first exchange above is from the Godfather Part II; the second is from a meeting between American and North Vietnamese officers in Hanoi in 1974.  I'd wish I could assume readers recognized both immediately.

Friday, July 04, 2014


A friend of mine had it on vinyl, or maybe on a tape. I remember him translating it for me, laughing. "Everything is going according to plan." The line gave me a flashback from 20 years ago.
I didn't know about the Adam Curtis Massive Attack collaboration.

Curtis is a political romantic who uses irony only to put himself beyond irony. He refers to desperation and nihilism to indulge without admitting the indulgence, and the denial magnifies it. If art is reification, it describes the maker's desires as the desires of a person, not absolutely as the state of the world. Art is response; it's not the world. The little space between the two is irony.  Curtis collapses that space. What's left is simple determinism.

Curtis is the Chris Marker of the BBC, a romantic reporter of fact. Marker by comparison is just a man observing and responding to what he sees, while admitting that what exists may be something else entirely.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

What's the score now?

6/4/13: One Palestinian child has been killed by Israel every 3 days for the past 13 years

The response of liberal activists including Palestinians, is as weak as ever. They feel the need to apologize for everything, even what was predictable.

If Palestinians responded as Israelis have after 3 deaths, assuming they were even able to, Tel Aviv would be in ruins.

B'Tselem : Between January 2009 and May 31 2014,  84 Palestinian minors (children and teens) killed.

88-3? 90-3? 93-3? 100-3?