The Israel Lobby?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Rahm Emanuel is Jewish??? [Jerusalem Post]

Katz went on to compare Emanuel to the biblical Esther, who ended up at using her influence with Persian King Ahashverosh to intervene on behalf of the Jews of the Persian Empire.

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” Katz wrote, quoting from the Book of Esther (4:14).

Plus, Jane Harman in trouble for a little quid pro quo with AIPAC? [Congressional Quarterly]

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Gaza: The View From Here

Friday, January 9, 2009

More than a couple of people have asked me why I haven’t written about Gaza.

My answer?

Why? What is the point? Even my exasperation and boredom with the topic of Israel/Palestine is cliche. Truly, what is there to say that hasn’t already been said?

Questions about right and wrong, absolutism vs. relativism, are wholly dependent upon which side of the war you fall on, upon your emotional connection to the issue. Any legitimately reasonable approach to the conflict recognizes that the problems of Israel are intractable.

To me, this leads to one conclusion. Scrap Israel/Palestine as presently constituted and start over again. It will take two contiguous sovereign states (north/south?) with equal rights and the wholesale movement of people, communities, industry, etc. Get all the Palestinians in one country and all the Jews in the other.

Does this sound impossible?

Maybe. In which case, there is no solution and these people will be killing each other forever. That’s it. It’s that simple. There is no other solution.

And if that’s the case, my feeling is…go for it, just keep it out of America. I do NOT want U.S. citizens involved in this endless, unsolvable war. Please go ahead and have at it, but I will never send my children to die for this nonsense.

For that matter, why must I read about it every day? People complain that universities that target Israel for divestiture are singling out that state, but they do so because we read about Israel every day on the cover of the New York Times. We don’t read about the Tamil Tigers and Sri Lanka every day. We read about Israel.

I won’t get into why that is the case, but simply note that it might be a good idea for Americans to ignore this conflict.

Naive? If we ignore it, it will certainly come back to haunt us?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Nothing compels our attention or participation but politics. And politics can change. It just takes a grassroots movement, because it won’t happen through the establishment. But imagine if America simply didn’t take sides. Abstained in the U.N. Treated Israelis and Palestinians equally.

All that said, I think the Palestinians are morons. If they were smart they would adopt a non-violent approach to their problem. Clearly, they are outgunned. Immediately give up all arms and disavow violence in any form. No terrorism, no army, nothing. Then they would truly be able to marshal global political power in a way that could rival the Jews. If they are then at the table, meeting as equals, possibilities open up.

Right now, I am convinced that Israel has the right to defend itself from rocket attacks, disproportionate response or not. Take away the possibility of war – and I believe the Israelis would be happy to never kill another Palestinian – and you’re getting some where. Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims generally, just have to accept that Israel is a fact of life. It’s a done deal. Get over it.

But this is just a pipe dream. It’s fantasy. These people will be killing each other forever.

And frankly, at this point, I don’t really care.


Hillary to be Secretary of State

Friday, November 21, 2008

It’s coming in fast now.

Hillary will (or has) accepted Obama’s offer according to the New York Times. This should make for some good fun.

Despite her shortcomings (which are few) and, of course, Bill, you know Hillary is going to do a good job.

This is a good move for America. And in case you hadn’t noticed, Obama is a very, very smart man.


The Historical Bible

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wonderful Nova episode last night on PBS about trying to connect archaeological findings with the history of the Bible.

This is not an area where I feel well versed, but the show was eye-opening. Among biblical scholars, historians, and archaeologists, there seems to be a general consensus that the Israelites were originally Canaanites (that seems politically expedient, too) and that a small group emerged from Egypt and fused with these Canaanites in the central highlands (what is now the Westbank) to create the Jewish people.

The story of Exodus was likely brought by this small group. There is some evidence that indicates these migrants worshiped a god with the name Yahweh.

This took place between roughly 1300 and 1000 BCE.

Fascinating stuff. And, naturally, subject to some dispute. For my money, this kind of scholarship, divorced from the prerogatives of belief, is essential for human cultural evolution. The Bible is a complex and unmatched tapestry of myth and history. It is not, by any stretch, the word of God. The more we learn, the clearer that becomes.

The episode will be available on the PBS website later today. Here is a supporting interview from the site with Carol Meyers, an archeologist and professor of religion at Duke University.

Worth watching.


Iraqi Cabinet Approves U.S. Withdrawal Plan

Sunday, November 16, 2008

It goes to their parliament now, but the agreement was approved almost unanimously by the cabinet and that, apparently, bodes well for parliamentary approval. If passed, all American troops will be out by the end of 2011. From the New York Times:

The draft approved Sunday requires coalition forces to withdraw from Iraqi cities and towns by the summer of 2009 and from the country by the end of 2011. An earlier version had language giving some flexibility to that deadline, with both sides discussing timetables and timelines for withdrawal, but the Iraqis managed to have the deadline set in stone, a significant negotiating victory.

So is this surrender? Cause it smells like victory to me. I hope the neocons will accept it as such and stop trying to dishonor the work of our Armed Services by claiming otherwise. It’s disgraceful to belittle the progress they’ve made – enough that our presence is no longer thought necessary – by insisting that we haven’t won.* We should plan a big victory parade for our troops in 2011.

As for the future of Iraq, well, call me cynical, but I think there’s a lot more blood to be shed. I can’t pretend to know how it will turn out, especially Iran-wise, with all of their trouble, and the world in economic turmoil, but to me, it seems the likeliest conclusion that after a civil war a Shia strongman will rise and take Saddam-like control of the country (excluding the Kurds). In that event, we will actually be worse off than we were before the war.

I just hope that Bush and company will face punishment for their crimes. For the tens of thousands of lives lost and for the tens of thousands of wounded and for the millions who have lost their homes. As we unwind all of the foul corruption and dishonor of the Bush administration, we must make sure that those who are most responsible pay the heaviest price.

*Btw, I definitely want Joe Lieberman booted from his committee chair. Don’t care if he caucuses with the Dems or not, I want his downfall. The day he loses his Senate seat, I will drink a toast to his failure.


Bush Wagging the Dog?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

You knew the administration that always puts politics above policy would do something, right?

So are over the border (from Iraq) helicopter attacks on Syria their October surprise?

How could anyone trust Bush on this?


The Meaning of Anbar

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Here we have an emblem of the successful military campaign we have ultimately waged in Iraq. It should be a cause for celebration. And yet, outside of the political spin machine, this event cannot responsibly be celebrated. The peace in the province is tenuous and provisional. Any number of events could set off another cycle of extreme violence.

For those thinking clearly on Iraq, Anbar is simply another step towards the inevitable departure of American troops. A departure that portends – without the American financial, diplomatic, and military presence – a collapse into civil war and chaos.

So I meet this news with bittersweet emotions. Congratulations to GEN. Petraeus and the troops for a job well done.

But to al-Maliki and the Iraqis, all of whom are already looking to consolidate their positions, you must not lose the peace. Soon, by your own request, America will leave. We don’t want to go back. Keep the hard fought gains and make your country great. Make every doubter look the fool.

To Bush and the entire neocon cohort who brought us this war: You are war criminals and I look forward to charges being brought against you by the Hague. This is the least you deserve. If we’re lucky, we’ll get another Saddam Hussein after all is said and done. But for the lives lost (more than 4,000 American; tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of Iraqis) the soldiers wounded (more than 30,000 American), and the treasure borrowed and spent, you deserve much, much worse.

That’s the meaning of Anbar.