Friday, May 29, 2015




In November 1972, journalist Orianna Fallaci sat down to interview then Israel’s Prime Minister Golda Meir. The Italian journalist and author, one of the most original and controversial interviewers of her time, recorded this interview in her 1976 book “Interview with History”:

We in Israel have absorbed about 1,400,000 Arab Jews: from Iraq, from Yemen, from Egypt, from Syria, from North African countries like Morocco. People who when they got here were full of diseases and didn’t know how to do anything. Among the seventy thousands Jews who came here from Yemen, for example, there wasn’t a single doctor or a single nurse, and almost all of them had tuberculosis. And still we took them, and built hospitals for them , and took care of them, we educated them,  put them in clear houses, and turned them into farmers, doctors, engineers, teachers … Among the 150,000 Jews who came here from Iraq, there was only a very small group of intellectuals, and yet today their children go to the university. Of course we have problems with them – all that glitters is not gold – but the fact remains that we accepted and helped them. [-]
… I think that none of us dreamers realized in the beginning what difficulties would come up. For example, we hadn’t foreseen the problem of bringing together Jews who had grown in such different countries and remained divided from each other for so many centuries. Jews have come here from all over the world, as we wanted, yes. But each group had its own language, its own culture, and to integrate it with other groups had been much more difficult than it seemed in theory. It’s not easy to create a homogeneous nation with people so different …. There was bound to be a clash. And it gave me disappointment and grief.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

In 2002 the Israeli novelist Irit Linur wrote an open letter to the editor of Ha'aretz:
 

It is a person’s right to be a radical leftist, and publish a newspaper in accordance with their world view … However, Haaretz reached a level of radical leftism in which its anti-Zionism is often turned into malevolent and stupid journalism … When Gideon Levy [Haaretz columnist and correspondent for Arab affairs] accuses Israel of turning Marwan Barghouti from a peace seeker to an organiser of suicide bombings, his accusations are as rational as post-9/11 conspiracy-theories that the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York was the work of the Mossad. In a private conversation he once told me he wouldn’t drive 100 meters to save the life of a settler. It seems to me that his loves and hates have long been polluting the heart-wrenching reports he files from the occupied territories. His entire career is infected by hucksterism; He’s one of very few reporters in the world who reports on Arab matters without speaking a word of Arabic. He gets simultaneous translation and that’s enough. This is amateurish journalism. Gideon Levy and Amira Haas hold the Palestinian portfolio in Haaretz. Like them, I acknowledge the journalistic and human value of these reports but … as far as they are concerned; Israel will always carry the blame for Palestinian suffering as well as for Palestinian murderousness. This is a blinkered and shallow interpretation, ethically and professionally flawed. Both avoid reporting the atrocities that Palestinians commit against each other. And there are Palestinians they never get to encounter: anti-Semites, chauvinists, corrupt, cheering when terrorist attacks are perpetrated on Israel. When a pro-Palestinian bias is the most conspicuously consistent feature in their reports I find it hard to maintain my faith in their articles. And since I am, excuse me, a Zionist, I don’t feel like getting every morning a dose of news that is the equivalent of The Voice of Thunder from Cairo [an all-day radio broadcast in broken Hebrew whose propaganda during the days before the Six-day War was cranked up to crisis-hysteria levels seeking to terrify the Israeli populace]. […]  

I have come to the conclusion that you and I do not inhabit the same country. More and more of your articles smell like foreign journalism that treats Israel as if it were a remote and repugnant territory. I get the feeling that the state of Israel disgusts you in some elementary way. But the thing is, it doesn’t disgust me. I don’t wish to subscribe to a paper that tries in every conceivable way to make me feel ashamed of my Zionism, patriotism and intelligence, three qualities I deeply cherish.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Hannah Arendt, “The Origins of Totalitarianism” (p. 3)  provides a very cogent insight into the issue  of nationalism and internationalism:

One of the hasty explanations has been the identification of anti-Semitism with rampant nationalism and its xenophobic outburst. Unfortunately, the fact is that modern anti-Semitism grew in proportion as traditional nationalism declined, and reached its climax at the exact moment when the European system of nation-states and its precarious balance of power crashed.

It has already been noticed that the Nazis were not simple nationalists. Their nationalist propaganda was directed toward their fellow- travelers and not their convinced members; the latter, on the contrary, were never allowed to lose sight of a consistently supranational approach to politics. Nazi “nationalism” had more than one aspect in common with the recent nationalistic propaganda in the Soviet Union, which is also used only to feed the prejudices of the masses. The Nazis had a genuine and never revoked contempt for the narrowness of nationalism, the provincialism of the nation-state, and they repeated time and again that their movement, international in scope like the Bolshevik movement, was more important to them than any state which would necessarily be bound to specific territory. And not only the Nazis, but fifty years of anti-Semitic history stand as evidence against the identification of anti-Semitism with nationalism. The first anti-Semitic parties in the last decades of the nineteenth century were also among the first that banded together internationally. From the very beginning, they called international congresses and were concerned with a coordination of international, or at least inter-European, activities.”

Thursday, May 07, 2015



Conversation with  "Peace in our time " True Believer


 “Absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power.” ― Eric Hoffer


An example in how shallow is the knowledge and understanding of a presumably Jewish  pro-Palestinian, Peter Beinart-BDS-style admirer. He cannot prove even one claim he makes by some kind of verifiable quote, fact or record but insists he knows the truth.


“Netanyahu’s public renunciation of a 2-state solution during his campaign is shared by the vast majority of his new cabinet - @jstreetdotorg”
Twitter Conversation ensues, re-formatted here for more comfortable reading but can be verified here:


I: Any sane person in Israel knows there can be no 2SS as long as Palestinians insist on RoR (code for no Israel)

Ron:  In 2008, before Netanyahu killed the peace process, Palestine's leaders were willing to compromise on a Right of Return.

I: (2011) Palestinian "statehood “will never affect the right of return for Palestinian refugees” http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Politics/2011/Sep-15/148791-interview-refugees-will-not-be-citizens-of-new-state.ashx

Ron: You read something in a Lebanese newspaper, so it must be true, it must be the voice of God. No, it isn't.

I: That's not a very coherent response. He's an official representative of PA speaking to a sympathetic audience in Arabic.

Ron:  The voice of God is one thing, something reported in a Lebanese newspaper is not as credible as you seem to believe.

I: What's God have to do with this discussion? DailyStar is a reliable enough source, the speaker is an official representative.

I: I'm not preventing you from proving in 2008 PA was willing to renounce RoR. Surely you have some reliable source for that?

Ron: A deal between Israel and the Palestinians was easily within reach before Netanyahu killed the peace process.

Ron: Because Israel has such an extremist government, Israel must make a gesture before Palestinians respond in kind.

I: You can't provide more than platitudes, because your position are faith-based, not fact-based. http://contentious-centrist.blogspot.ca/2011/04/declaration-of-palestinian-rejectionism.html …

Ron: It is not worth my time to do research to support what I wrote to you.Proving it to you would have extremely little payoff.

I: The time to research is BEFORE getting stuck in a position. Sounds to me you can't really support any of your premises.

This is called the sour grapes fallacy, my good man: mythfolklore.net/aesopica /image…  



Ron: I concluded that there is no convincing you, and that even if I did convince you, it would make no real difference.

I: Conclusion is that unless you support this statement: https://twitter.com/RonSupportsYou/status/596295268087177216 … with any reliable quotes, it is a fantasy

Ron: I wrote to you what I know to be true. I also explained why it would be a waste of my time to do research to find proof.

I: What YOU know to be true doesn't translate into "it is the truth". Clearly you think it is a waste of time to find the truth

 Ron: It is a waste of time to convince you of the truth, for reasons I already explained to you.


 I:  You can't convince by claiming the truth of " because I say so". Who do you think you are, Jeremiah?

At which point, Ron decided to block me from his twitter life.   Case closed.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


The late Israeli poet Natan Alterman wrote this poem. long ago, and its poignancy continues to resonate:




אז אמר השטן:הנצור הזה
איך אוכל לו.
איתו האומץ וכשרון המעשה
וכלי מלחמה ותושיה עצה לו.

ואמר:לא אטול את כוחו
ולא מורך אביא בתוכו
ולא ידיו ארפה כמיקדם,
רק זאת אעשה: אכהה מוחו
ושכח שאיתו הצדק.
_ _ _

כך דיבר השטן וכמו
חורו שמים מאימה
בראותם אותו בקומו
לבצע המזימה.

Then Satan said: This beleaguered one --
How can I thwart him?
He's possessed of courage and skill
implements of war and astute counsel

And he said: I will neither take away his power
nor fill him with dread
nor undermine his strength
Only this shall I do:
I'll dull his mind
and he'll forget his righteous cause ...

____

Thus Satan spake and 
heavens turned pale with horror
seeing him rise up
his treachery to perform

Saturday, April 25, 2015

"Critical thinking

 is possible only where the standpoints of all others are open to inspection. Hence, critical thinking, while still a solitary business, does not cut itself off from ‘all others.’ To be sure, it still goes on in isolation, but by the force of imagination it makes the others present and thus moves in a space that is potentially public, open to all sides; in other words, it adopts the position of Kant’s world citizen. To think with an enlarged mentality means that one trains one’s imagination to go visiting."

-- Hannah Arendt, Lectures on Kant's Political Philosophy

Sunday, April 19, 2015

 The Sycophants


Etymology of term:

The origin of the Ancient Greek word συκοφάντης (sykophántēs) disparages the unjustified accuser who has in some way perverted the legal system. The original etymology of the word (sukon/sykos/συκος fig, and phainein/fanēs/φανης to show) “revealer of figs”—has been the subject of extensive scholarly speculation and conjecture. Plutarch appears to be the first to have suggested that the source of the term was in laws forbidding the exportation of figs, and that those who leveled the accusation against another of illegally exporting figs were therefore called sycophants. Athenaeus provided a similar explanation. Blackstone's Commentaries repeats this story, but adds an additional take—that there were laws making it a capital offense to break into a garden and steal figs, and that the law was so odious that informers were given the name sycophants. A different explanation of the origin of the term by Shadwell was that the sycophant refers to the manner in which figs are harvested, by shaking the tree and revealing the fruit hidden among the leaves. The sycophant, by making false accusations, makes the accused yield up their fruit. The Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition listed these and other explanations, including that the making of false accusations was an insult to the accused in the nature of "showing the fig", an "obscene gesture of phallic significance" or, alternatively that the false charges were often so insubstantial as to not amount to the worth of a fig. Generally, scholars have dismissed these explanations as inventions, long after the original meaning had been lost. Danielle Allen suggests that the term was "slightly obscene", connoting a kind of perversion, and may have had a web of meanings derived from the symbolism of figs in ancient Greek culture, ranging from the improper display of one’s “figs” by being overly aggressive in pursuing a prosecution, the unseemly revealing of the private matters of those accused of wrongdoing, to the inappropriate timing of harvesting figs when they are unripe.

 

SYCOPHANT Ambrose Bierce

—n.
One who approaches Greatness on his belly so that he may not be commanded to turn and be kicked. He is sometimes an editor.

  As the lean leech, its victim found, is pleased
  To fix itself upon a part diseased
  Till, its black hide distended with bad blood,
  It drops to die of surfeit in the mud,
  So the base sycophant with joy descries
  His neighbor's weak spot and his mouth applies,
  Gorges and prospers like the leech, although,
  Unlike that reptile, he will not let go.
  Gelasma, if it paid you to devote
  Your talent to the service of a goat,
  Showing by forceful logic that its beard
  Is more than Aaron's fit to be revered;
  If to the task of honoring its smell
  Profit had prompted you, and love as well,
  The world would benefit at last by you
  And wealthy malefactors weep anew —
  Your favor for a moment's space denied
  And to the nobler object turned aside.
  Is't not enough that thrifty millionaires
  Who loot in freight and spoliate in fares,
  Or, cursed with consciences that bid them fly
  To safer villainies of darker dye,
  Forswearing robbery and fain, instead,
  To steal (they call it "cornering") our bread
  May see you groveling their boots to lick
  And begging for the favor of a kick?
  Still must you follow to the bitter end
  Your sycophantic disposition's trend,
  And in your eagerness to please the rich
  Hunt hungry sinners to their final ditch?
  In Morgan's praise you smite the sounding wire,
  And sing hosannas to great Havemeyher!
  What's Satan done that him you should eschew?
  He too is reeking rich — deducting you.