Archive for September, 2007

Borrowing trouble

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

My wife tells me that I worry too much. “Don’t borrow trouble”, she says. Well, here are a few of the things I worry about:

Nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorist proxies
The “Mutual Assured Destruction” of the Cold War was effective at preventing atomic war because both sides knew exactly who their enemy was, and where he lived. And also, to tell the truth, that regardless of what one thought about them, the leaders on both sides were not the type to get their jollies from the idea of incinerating their enemies. None of this is true today.

The internalization of antisemitism in human belief
It seems that there’s been antisemitism as long as there have been Jews (and even in places where there were not Jews), but the power of modern mass media and its deliberate employment by Israel’s enemies has caused half the world to take the idea that Jews and Israel are the embodiment of evil as an non-controversial given.

The development of radical Islam as normative Islam
For various reasons, from the simple psychological pull to extremes to complex political phenomena, more and more of the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims are coming to hold radical forms of belief which promote violent and aggressive action in the name of Islam.

The loss of intellectual and moral vitality in the West
While the academic establishment rewards utter nonsense and seems to have entirely forgotten the notion of objective truth, political and business leaders pursue personal wealth at the expense of their constituents, customers, employees, stockholders, etc.

That’s probably enough for now. I can’t help worrying, it’s in the genes.

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The ‘what’ and ‘why’ of Mearsheimer and Walt

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

Mearsheimer (left) and WaltTwo questions about Mearsheimer and Walt come to my mind:

1) What are they trying to do?

2) Why are they doing it?

I think that their work has less to do with its putative subject, the pro-Israel lobby, than appears. They are simply using this route — which rings bells deep in the psyche of many who are not overtly antisemitic — to damage Israel’s security by driving a wedge between her and her major ally and supporter, the US. Here’s a report of one stop on their book tour, in Berkeley, California from the Blue Truth blog. Read it and see if there is any other way to understand the thrust of their arguments.

For example:

(Walt) then goes on to say that no other democracies get the same level of support and that Israel’s treatment of its own Arab population (much less its treatment of the West Bank Arabs who are not citizens) doesn’t measure up to American values. He does go as far as to say that Israel, in its actions to defend itself, “doesn’t act any better” than its adversaries… Not a word about the fact that Israel has terrorist gangs on its borders armed with rockets, not a word about the terror war launched by Arafat in 2000, not a word about 60 years of genocidal threats against the Jewish state. Listening to Walt, one would think Israel is located in central Europe surrounded by friendly neighbors but just can’t manage to get along with them…

[Mearsheimer] is the one to present the arguments that are staples of the far left and the extreme right, that the influence of “The Lobby” is so pervasive that it was one of the main driving forces for the US invasion of Iraq, and that the policies it promotes are a major source of terrorism. He spent a lot of his time tying the 9/11 attacks to US support for Israel as well. [my emphasis. The whole article is recommended.]

Although they also say that they are not opposed to the existence of Israel, their arguments are designed to strike directly at American support for Israel. So much for what they are doing. Now, why?

The ‘why’ is interesting. Here is an excerpt from some remarks on “Walt and Mearsheimer By Any Other Name” in the Solomonia blog by a commenter named ‘ERIS’. He writes:

Walt and Mearsheimer know full well there is no super-powerful “Jewish Lobby”, that the pro-Israel lobbyists have competing counterparts representing many other causes and countries, and that the pro-Israel lobby is not particularly remarkable in this environment. They know full well that the misrepresentations of fact, omissions, things taken out of context, logical errors, etc. in their prior paper and this book are indeed risible, the trash produced by dilettantes, not by serious researchers.

But they don’t care.

What would make them produce such garbage?

Indeed, since they would be expected to have a notion of the difference between scholarship and propaganda, why did they choose the latter? I don’t have a definite answer, but I have a guess: I think they are doing it for the money.

Although the book is definitely going to get them big bucks, I doubt that they knew this when they wrote the original article. My theory — and it is completely unsubstantiated, so far — is that a careful investigation would show that this is a project financed by Our Friends The Saudis.

Possibly they feel that their bribery of support for Jimmy Carter was a little too obvious, so they’ve been much more careful with this one.

So come on, investigative reporters. Dig a little and prove me right!

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The AP feeds the ‘Israel Lobby’ hysteria

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

An example of ‘unbiased’ news reporting from the AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) – Congress signaled its disapproval of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with a vote Tuesday to tighten sanctions against his government and a call to designate his Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group.

The swift rebuke was a rare display of bipartisan cooperation in a Congress bitterly divided on the Iraq war. It reflected lawmakers’ long-standing nervousness about Tehran’s intentions in the region, particularly toward Israel—a sentiment fueled by the pro-Israeli lobby whose influence reaches across party lines in Congress

The House passed, by a 397-16 vote, a proposal by [Tom] Lantos, D-Calif., aimed at blocking foreign investment in Iran, in particular its lucrative energy sector. The bill would specifically bar the president from waiving U.S. sanctions… [my emphasis]

The article goes on to add that

The legislative push came a day after Ahmadinejad defended Holocaust revisionists, questioned who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks and declared homosexuals didn’t exist in Iran in a tense question-and- answer session at Columbia University.

And let’s not forget that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Does Congress need an Israel lobby to tell it these things?

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The snake speaks

Monday, September 24th, 2007

Ahmadinejad on the treatment of gays in Iran:

Mr. President, another student asks, Iranian women are now denied basic human rights, and your government has imposed draconian punishments, including execution on Iranian citizens who are homosexuals. Why are you doing those things?

PRESIDENT AHMADINEJAD: Those in Iran are genuine true freedoms. The Iranian people are free. Women in Iran enjoy the highest levels of freedoms. We have two deputy vice — well, two vice presidents that are female…

But as for the executions, I’d like to raise two questions. If someone comes and establishes a network for illicit drug trafficking that affects the (use ?) in Iran, Turkey, Europe, the United States by introducing these illicit drugs and destroys them, would you ever reward them? …

Don’t you have capital punishment in the United States? You do, too. (Applause.)

In Iran, too, there’s capital punishment for illicit drug traffickers, for people who violate the rights of people…

MR. COATSWORTH [moderator]: (Off mike) — and drug smugglers. The question was about sexual preference and women. (Applause.)

PRESIDENT AHMADINEJAD: In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country. (Laughter.) We don’t have that in our country. (Booing.) In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon. I don’t know who’s told you that we have it. (Laughter.)

Well, they don’t have quite as many as they used to:

Hanging gay teenagers in Mashad, Iran

Hanging gay teenagers in Mashad, Iran

You can find the complete transcript of Ahmadinejad’s talk at Columbia here.

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What are the Palestinians paying for?

Monday, September 24th, 2007

Why does Ahmadinejad care about the Holocaust?

Possibly lots of reasons, but one of them is to make a poor argument against Israel.

“Granted this happened, what does it have to do with the Palestinian people?” he said…

Ahmadinejad said he simply wanted more research on the Holocaust, which he said was abused as a justification for Israeli mistreatment of the Palestinians.

“Why is it that the Palestinian people are paying the price for an event they had nothing to do with?” Ahmadinejad asked. — Jerusalem Post report of his Columbia University speech

al-Husseini in BerlinThe Holocaust actually has little to do with the Palestinians, unless you are talking about the Palestinian Nazi, Haj Amin al-Husseini. But the idea that Israel was created as a result of the Holocaust is nonsense.

By 1939 the Zionists had put all of the institutions of the Jewish state in place. The only thing that remained was to kick out the British. And there’s no doubt that would have happened, with or without the Holocaust. Indeed, many of the six million would probably have ended up in Israel instead of the smokestacks of Auschwitz.

The Palestinians are paying the price, actually, of some choices made by their leaders and friends.

  • They are paying for the choice made by al-Husseini to try to drive the Jews out of Palestine and, when this failed, to ally himself with Hitler.
  • They are paying for the choice made by the Arab nations to try to destroy Israel in 1948.
  • They are paying — a very high price — for the choice made by the Arab nations to not try to solve the refugee problem, but rather to exacerbate it in order to use it against Israel.
  • They are paying the price for Nasser’s arrogance and desire to commit genocide in 1967.
  • They are paying the price for almost everything ever done by Yasser Arafat.
  • And now they are paying for electing a Hamas-dominated Palestinian authority.

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