Rules of Fair Discussion
Cass Sunstein on the best way to interact with opponents:
The antonym of respect is disdain or (better) contempt; the antonym of charity is selfishness or (better) stinginess. It is much worse to be disrespectful than to be uncharitable. Politicians who show respect--Senator McCain is a good example--tend not to attack the competence, the motivations, or the defining commitments of those who disagree with him. Politicians who show charity as well as respect--Senator Obama is a rare example--tend to put opposing arguments in the best possible form, to praise the motivations of those who offer such arguments, and to seek proposals that specifically accept the defining commitments of all sides.
The Contentious Centrist
"Civilization is not self-supporting. It is artificial. If you are not prepared to concern yourself with the upholding of civilization -- you are done." (Ortega y Gasset)
Monday, April 14, 2014
Rules of Fair Discussion
Friday, March 28, 2014
On "Engage" a well meaning writer is trying to plead with would be boycotters of Israeli universities. Almost at the very outset he declares: "The occupation of Palestine and the human rights abuses that flow from the occupation are to my mind simply wrong", thus signaling to the would-be boycotters that he has no quarrel with the righteousness of the premise upon which their boycott wish is based. He is in full agreement with them as to principle. That's all they need to hear from him, that's all they will take, and the rest of his reasoning will be ignored, discarded, garbaged.
I left the following comment:
"“If read with care” ?? BDSers’ message gets coarser and more simplistic by the hour as Israel’s supporters are concerned with delicate surgical analyses and those famous “nuances”. I stopped having any interest in this article as soon as I got to the line “The occupation of Palestine and the human rights abuses that flow from the occupation are to my mind simply wrong “.
BDSers and their constituencies will stop reading and hearing anything beyond this point, and justly so. It’s all they need to get from you, in order to go on full speed ahead.
You can’t drive an artificial barrier between Israeli society and its government. Israel is a democracy and Israeli society is made up of rational people. It is wrong and it is dangerous to suggest there is a disconnect between Israelis and their government. It demeans Israelis and it is dangerous. If you want to know why, read this from Norm Geras:
“Derek beats his wife. Not every day, just now and again. But whenever he does – maybe every few weeks – the beating he gives her is severe. She is always bruised, often bleeding, sometimes scarcely able to walk in the immediate aftermath.
Derek has his reasons. When Elaine is unhappy, as she often is, her voice irritates him. When it irritates him too much he lets rip. Elaine can also be forgetful and so she mislays things. On the most recent occasion – July 7 – it was the car keys that went missing; Derek was late for work. But the most usual reason for his anger with Elaine is their children. They make a noise and get on his nerves in other ways. For this, as for most other things, he blames Elaine: when he beats her, it’s always her fault.
Derek and Elaine’s neighbours, some of whom are also their friends, know about the beatings. They couldn’t fail to. They disapprove when he beats her. Or at least most of them do. But some, while professing to disapprove, seem not entirely unimpressed by Derek’s reasons. They tell each other that Elaine’s voice can indeed be irritating, and that it’s ‘understandable’ that Derek should have been upset at not being able to find the car keys. They agree among themselves that the couple’s children can be a genuine cause of exasperation.
Though they say that Derek shouldn’t beat Elaine, they are keen on recognizing his grievances. And he knows this.”
The question is: are you a friend of Derek or a friend of Elaine? If you can’t be a good friend to Elaine you had better butt out of their life altogether. Your presence only makes things worse for her. Because Derek is not a rational being with rational motivations who can be reasoned with. He is a pathological bully and a wife-beater.
Saturday, March 15, 2014
"Fareej also reportedly masterminded attacks on a gas pipeline to Israel, the group said in a statement posted on militant Islamist Internet forums. Fareej was also involved in a failed assassination attempt against the Egyptian interior minister in September.The report of Fareej’s death could not be independently verified, nor could his involvement in the August 2011 attack.
The Sinai Peninsula-based group said Fareej moved to mainland Egypt in early 2013 and “oversaw the group’s branch that carried out many operations against the regime of traitors and collaborators.”
The group has claimed a series of high profile attacks in Sinai and mainland Egypt, including bombings of police headquarters and the downing of a military helicopter with a heat-seeking missile."
Springtime for Egypt
So, for self-serving purposes, Zionists would like to believe that Egypt's revolution is not about Egypt's peace with Israel but an expression of Egypt's own problems, such as absence of basic liberties, scarcity of food, no employment for young men and women, etc etc. But Zionists are dead wrong (emphasis definitely on "dead").
Prof. AbuKhalil, who teaches political science at California State University, Stanislaus and visiting professor at UC, Berkeley, tells us: wake up and smell the gas, in his own academically measured and dispassionate way:
" So the gas pipe line to Israel was bombed for the fourth time, not the third time. If the Egyptian uprising did not have foreign policy objectives ...why has the pipe line to Israel been bombed four times?"
Don't believe those Zionist liars, those perfidious manufacturers of consent, who tell you that it was " Just a coincidence. Pure coincidence. Or, I will remind you that the first time it was bombed, several Israeli newspapers in promoted the notion that technical problems led to the explosion."
You see, Angry here wants to believe badly, really really badly, that Egyptians went to war on their own dictators in order to be free to make war on Israel, for the sake of poor Palestinians.
Funny. When the so called "revolution" was taking place and many noted the appearance of antisemitic banners among the madding crowds, Israelis and their supporters were chastised for having such tiny faith in the wisdom and genuine concerns of Egyptians. And now we are told by someone who considers himself as directly channeling the Arab Street that indeed, we were right. Not only told but blatantly jeered at for the crime of believing that Egyptians might actually be more interested in Democratic reform and a better future for themselves and less inclined to be "jubilant" about such a non-democratic act as explosive sabotage of a gas pipe which is there as a consequence of legally binding agreements between two neighboring states.
I sometimes wonder if AbuKhalil is not an embedded Mossad agent in American Academia, where he can do a magnificent propaganda job for Israel by airing the most fatuous, triumphalist theories and stories that emanate from the Arab Street.
Update: Angry Arab heart is gladdened by the smell of exploded gas pipe in the morning
Money quote: "Even if you appoint local tribesmen or anyone to guard such a facility, no one would really protect it because they hate the facility, the gas supply to the enemy and the government that signed such an agreement," said Sheikh Ibrahim Abu Elayan, the secretary-general of the Arab Tribes Association. "This agreement is a dagger in Egypt's heart."
The new Egypt fashions a new definition for democratic reform: war mongering, bombing, reneging on international agreements, aiding and abetting for terrorists. And the Prof. AbuKhalil couldn't be happier. He teaches young American students about the proper way of thinking .
Saturday, March 08, 2014
Demonization by Association:
In an essay about Hannah Arendt's relationship with her coreligionists, the author Gabriel Piterberg describes the exact moment in which, according to Arendt, modern antisemitism emerged:
Though contemporary persecutions clearly drew on ancient antecedents, Arendt distinguished sharply between the medieval ‘hatred of Jews’ and the emergence of modern antisemitism: the former ‘was about Jews, and not much more than that’, whereas the history of antisemitism ‘conceals many other tendencies’, in which Jews do not necessarily play a central role. To blur that distinction was ‘to abstract the Jewish Question out of the historical process and to destroy the common ground on which the fate of both Jews and non-Jews is decided.’ 
... Modernizing absolutist states, Arendt argued, deliberately turned to Jews to finance the expanding bureaucracies and standing armies that they required to counter both the old aristocracy and the rising bourgeoisie; they were happy to pit Jewish suppliers against craft guilds to advance mercantile manufacturing. Eighteenth-century absolutism benefited not just the wealthiest Jewish financiers, who might now be granted ‘exceptional’ civic rights and titles on an individual basis, but a broader layer of merchants and traders. By 1803, 20 per cent of Prussian Jews were ‘protected’ in some way, and over 3,000—Rahel Varnhagen’s family among them—had been granted dwelling rights in Berlin; they formed what Arendt terms a ‘collective exception’ to the unprotected and impoverished Jewish masses of West Prussia and Posen. 
Assimilation and antisemitism
It is at this juncture that Arendt locates the appearance of modern antisemitism: heralded, paradoxically, by the victory of Napoleon, emancipator of the Jews. The bourgeois intelligentsia’s discovery of German patriotism, in opposition to Napoleon, bred fears that the Jews might be tempted to support him; while the surrender of the eastern provinces deprived the ‘exceptional’ Jews of their necessary social backdrop, the non-exceptions.
Simultaneously, the rising German bourgeoisie included the Jews in its attack on Junker landowners—‘the aristocracy is so closely bound to the Jews that it cannot continue without them’, in the words of liberal publicist Friedrich Buchholz—while the Junkers’ counter-attacks against both the growing economic power of the bourgeoisie and the liberalizing moves of the state between 1806 and 1812 (permitting land sales, lifting trade regulations), highlighted the role of the ‘protected’ Jews as beneficiaries of marketization and allies of the state. The Junkers’ polemics against the bourgeoisie—promoters of industry and speculation as opposed to crafts and agriculture; of crass materialism against God’s order; of vain talent versus honourable character—rallied an alliance of farmers, guild members, shopkeepers: all ‘backward-looking or necessarily apprehensive strata’. 
In Arendt’s view, it was the Junkers’ success in portraying themselves, rather than the bourgeoisie, as the embodiment of the budding nation-state, that lay at the root of modern German antisemitism. The Junkers not only ‘otherized’ the bourgeoisie as everything the aristocracy was not but, crucially, prevailed upon it to internalize that ‘otherization’ as a truthful description—hence alienating the bourgeois citizen from himself. The final step was that the bourgeoisie, in order to rid itself of that portrayal, in turn projected it upon the Jews. ‘The malicious description of the bourgeoisie is the historical wellspring of almost all antisemitic arguments’, Arendt avers:
The only thing lacking here is . . . to apply it to the Jews. This proved relatively easy to do and was originally merely intended as the ultimate defamation: the bourgeois man is in truth no different from the Jew. For this, one needed only to declare that earning a living by profit and interest was the same as usury: the bourgeois citizen was nothing but a Jew and a usurer. The only people with a right to an income free of labour are those who already possess wealth. The ‘wild ambition’ unleashed by freedom of trade produces nothing but social parvenus—and no one rises from greater social depths than the Jew. 
She sums up:
What proved dangerous to the Jews was not the aristocracy’s historically determined hatred of the financiers of the modern state, but rather that arguments and characteristics trimmed and tailored for totally different people ended up attached to them . . . That the Prussian aristocracy succeeded in drilling these categories and value judgements into the head of the German bourgeois citizen until he was ashamed to be one—that is the real and, as it were, ‘ideological’ misfortune of German Jewry. For in the end the liberals’ truly destructive self-hatred gave rise to hatred of the Jews, that being the only means liberals had of distancing themselves from themselves, of shifting slander to others who, though they did not think of themselves as the ‘bourgeoisie’, were forced to be its 100 per cent embodiment. 
This observation is worth repeating, since its shrewdness easily leaps over the temporal and geographical gap, to apply today as accurately as it did two centuries ago:
For in the end the liberals’ truly destructive self-hatred gave rise to hatred of the Jews, that being the only means liberals had of distancing themselves from themselves, of shifting slander to others who, though they did not think of themselves as the ‘bourgeoisie’, were forced to be its 100 per cent embodiment.
Friday, February 28, 2014
A response to Mohammed Amin
“Going on the region’s current very poor track record with minorities and the well-recognised historic animosities, a relatively small and newly ‘legally unassured’ Jewish minority would come out of the dissolution of Israel really badly because they were Jewish.”
Edward Said in an interview with Avi Shavit:
“[Q] In a binational state, the Jews will quickly become a minority, like the
“[A] … the Jews are a minority everywhere. They are a minority in America. They can
certainly be a minority in Israel.”
[Q] Knowing the region and given the history of the conflict, do you think such a
Jewish minority would be treated fairly?
[A] “I worry about that. The history of minorities in the Middle East has not been
as bad as in Europe, but I wonder what would happen. It worries me a great deal.
The question of what is going to be the fate of the Jews is very difficult for
me. I really don’t know. It worries me.” [-]
“[Q]So what you envision is a totally new situation in which a Jewish minority would
live peacefully within an Arab context?
“[A] Yes. I believe it is viable. A Jewish minority can survive the way other
minorities in the Arab world survived. I hate to say it, but in a funny sort of
way, it worked rather well under the Ottoman Empire, with its millet system.
What they had then seems a lot more humane than what we have now.
So as you see it, the Jews would eventually have a cultural autonomy within a
pan-Arab structure? “[-]
“[Q] So in a generation or two, what we will have is an Arab-Jewish minority
community in an Arab world?
“[A]Yes. Yes. I would have thought.”
If you want a a preview of how Jews will fare under such “humane” conditions, all you need is take a look at what some BDSers fantasize about:
“I was looking forward to the end of the world as it would have permitted me–even for a second–to witness the end of the Zionist entity over Palestine.” http://contentious-centrist.blogspot.ca/2012/12/prof.html
This is a perfect representation of the anti-Zionism of BDS. It is neither extreme nor rare within that movement. in its aims This is cultivated and well-defined hatred with a plan. True, that compared with this vision, Edward Said’s admiration for the Ottoman millet system begins to look quite attractive …
About the tolerance of Islamic regime, here.
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Milan Kundera, wrote in his book Immortality:
“The more the fight for human rights gains in popularity, the more it loses any concrete content, becoming a kind of universal stance of everyone toward everything, a kind of energy that turns all human desires into rights. The world has become man’s right and everything in it has become a right: the desire for love the right to love, the desire for rest the right to rest, the desire for friendship the right to friendship, the desire to exceed the speed limit the right to exceed the speed limit, the desire for happiness the right to happiness, the desire to publish a book the right to publish a book, the desire to shout in the street in the middle of the night the right to shout in the street.”
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
The late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish stated on one occasion:
"Do you know why we Palestinians are famous? Because you are our enemy. The interest in us stems from the interest in the Jewish issue. The interest is in you, not in me. So we have the misfortune of having Israel as an enemy, because it enjoys unlimited support. And we have the good fortune of having Israel as our enemy, because the Jews are the center of attention. You’ve brought us defeat and renown.”