What Peter Beinart won’t report: PA TV thanks Palestinian children for fertilizing land with blood

H/T Margie

“The idea that the problem is Israel, that the problem is the Jews, protects Palestinians from having to confront [their] inferiority or do anything about it or overcome it. The idea among Palestinians that they are victims means more to them than anything else. It is everything. It is the centerpiece of their very identity and it is the way they define themselves as human beings in the world.”

“Palestinians will never be reached…until they are somehow able to get… beyond this sort of poetic truth that they are the perennial victims of an aggressive and racist Israeli nation.” - Shelby Steele

Sorry, I typically file such stories as “What the Guardian won’t report”, but in light of Peter Beinart’s latest foray into the delegitmizing enterprise – convinced, it seems, that peace would be achieved if not for racist Zionist policy  – it seems apropos to occasionally note facts the earnest liberal journalist evidently finds inconvenient to his narrative of Israeli villainy.

Beinart’s failure to hold Palestinians accountable for perpetuating a culture which glorifies terrorism, and promotes antisemitism, represents a dynamic his former colleague at The New Republic, Jim Sleeper, would likely characterize as “liberal racism“.

This week, official Palestinian Authority TV reported from a Fatah celebration in a refugee camp in Lebanon and focused on the following slide shown at the celebration. Fatah’s message was that children are created so that their blood will be “fertilizer” to saturate the land:

Sickness, hate, pathos?

Banish the thought!

No. I’m sure its all about “the settlements”.

Is Stephen Walt Blind, a Complete Fool, or a Big Liar?

From the blog of Martin Peretz, writing for The New Republic:

I’ve been trying to add to my knowledge of the Arab countries now in the “massacring-their-people” stage. All of the big powers have both rewarded and connived with Colonel Qaddafi to keep him and his family in power for 42 years. Not, by the way, that he is a king or anything. Moreover, he is not the first of the military colonels in the Arab world to take control of the state and turn it into a “revolutionary socialist” regime, so-called. More formally: the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. It’s been in power since 1969, which makes it the oldest continually ruling one-man regime in the world.

Anyway, in my search for new viewpoints on the Arab world, I came across an article by Stephen Walt, who is the Belfer Professor of International Affairs at Harvard (his chair was donated to the Kennedy School by a good Zionist family; so much for the control bought by Jewish money) and co-author with John Mearsheimer, a professor at the University of Chicago, of The Israel Lobby,in which I play a supporting role. I’ve written about this book on The Spine and so have others in TNR like Jeffrey Goldberg.

Walt’s Libya article was published in Foreign Policy barely a year ago. So it has the reassuring quality of being up-to-date. In the few hours he had in Tripoli, the capital city, he had the opportunity to talk with various high officials and get a real feel for the country. Here’s part of what he had to say on January 18, 2010:

My own view (even before I visited) is that the improvement of U.S.-Libyan relations as one of the few (only?) success stories in recent U.S. Middle East diplomacy. Twenty-five years ago, Libya and the United States were bitter antagonists: U.S. and Libyan warplanes clashed on several occasions in the Gulf of Sidra, and Libyan agents bombed a discotheque in Germany that was frequented by U.S. soldiers. U.S. aircraft attacked Libya more than once, targeting Qaddafion at least one occasion (and killing his adopted daughter Hannah). Libya was also held responsible for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988 (though some recent accounts have questioned its culpability) and it had an active WMD development program and received substantial nuclear weapons technology from the illicit A. Q Khan network.

Yet a fortuitous combination of multilateral sanctions, patient diplomacy and Libyan re-thinking has produced a noticeable detente in recent years. In a rare display of policy continuity, the Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II administrations managed to simultaneously keep the pressure on and keep the door to reconciliation open. (Great Britain played a key role here too, and the effort may have succeeded precisely because Washington remained in the background). This effort paid off in when Libya agreed to dismantle all of its WMD programs in 2003 and to re-engage with the West. (A key part of that deal, by the way, was George W. Bush’s decision to explicitly renounce the goal of “regime change,” in sharp contrast to his approach to some other countries.)

Libya has also been a valuable ally in the “war on terror” (having had its own problems with Islamic radicals), and Ghaddafi’s son Saif reportedly played a key role in persuading a Libyan-based al Qaeda affiliate to renounce terrorism and to denounce Osama bin Laden last year. Overall, the remarkable improvement in U.S.-Libyan relations reminds us that deep political conflicts can sometimes be resolved without recourse to preventive war or “regime change.” One hopes that the United States and Libya continue to nurture and build a constructive relationship, and that economic and political reform continues there. (I wouldn’t mind seeing more dramatic political reform—of a different sort—here too). The United States could use a few more friends in that part of the world.

What an insightful man Walt is.

Read the rest of the essay, here.

A review of: Trials of the Diaspora (A History of Anti-Semitism in England), by Anthony Julius

The following is a review of Anthony Julius’s book, Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England, by Jonathan Freedland, writing for The New Republic.  While the book itself should be read by anyone concerned about ant-Semitism in the UK – and the Guardian in particular – this review (as effective literary criticism can often do) represents a great primer on the subject.  While this blog typically shies away from such lengthy essays, our mission – exposing anti-Semitism at the Guardian and their blog, Comment is Free – occasionally necessitates such in-depth and comprehensive analyses of the broader phenomenon of anti-Semitism in British society.  As such, Freedland’s review provides the reader with a good summary of Julius’s study on the British contribution to “the world’s longest hatred”.


Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England

By Anthony Julius

(Oxford University Press, 811 pp., $45)


Anthony Julius begins his magisterial and definitive history of a thousand years of anti-Semitism in England with an anecdote from his childhood. He is riding on a train to the English Midlands with his father, who is in conversation with “Arthur,” a non-Jewish business associate. Arthur, keen to ingratiate himself with his companion, remarks that his daughter recently had a little Jewish girl over to their house for tea. “I must say,” Arthur adds, beaming, “the child has got the most beautiful manners.”

Julius recalls that, even at the age of ten or eleven, he had a “sense of the temperature in the compartment rising.” His father says nothing, refusing to confront Arthur over his remark. It is clear that fear plays no part in this decision. Julius père does not lack courage. “It had instead something to do with an unwillingness to condescend to being offended, a refusal to acknowledge the hurt caused by the insult implicit in Arthur’s remarks—that it is always noteworthy when Jews behave well.”

It may seem an odd starting point for a book that is, for the bulk of its eight-hundred-odd pages (including two hundred pages of footnotes), rigorously scholarly rather than personal. But it is fitting. Everything about that early encounter is English: the cramped train compartment, the embarrassment, the stuffiness, what is unsaid signifying more than what is said. And the subject at hand—English anti-Semitism—often operates in the nebulous, subtle, implicit register typified by Arthur’s remark. Indeed, Julius devotes an entire chapter to the “mentality of modern English anti-Semitism,” to the slippery, subcutaneous prejudices and assumptions, the slights and the snubs, that have informed centuries of English social life.

But the memory of that train journey with “Arthur”—a name that centuries ago stood as the very acme of Englishness—lingers over the entire book for a less direct reason. The clue lies in the prose of Anthony Julius, a London-based polymath who made his name twice over—as the literary critic who deconstructed the anti-Semitism of T.S. Eliot, and then, to a much wider public, as the lawyer who represented Princess Diana in her divorce from the heir to the English throne. That prose is cool and precise, never anything but fully in control of the extraordinary breadth of material under review—from medieval church history to the rantings of the early twenty-first-century blogosphere, with Chaucer, Donne, both Eliots, and many other figures along the way. The episode on the train almost has one wondering if this is an author determined to prove that a Jew can write on English history as soberly and thoroughly as any Englishman—with, as it were, the most beautiful manners. But the coolness of Julius’s prose suggests something more, too: a man, like his father, unwilling “to condescend to being offended.”

Accordingly, Julius digs up and holds to the light a litany of murderous crimes committed against the Jews and then, in later centuries, one vicious quotation after another, discussing the evidence he has exhumed in a tone of bemused detachment rather than righteous fury. He serves up, for example, a choice passage from J.B. Priestley, one rich in the hoariest stereotypes, before merely and drily noting that “Priestley’s concessions to everyday anti-Semitic sentiment might surprise contemporary readers.” Perhaps that is the voice that a fine legal training inculcates. But one suspects it is also the voice of a man who learned long ago to be anything but the angry Jew.

The result is a meticulous taxonomy of prejudice, written as if with a pair of surgical gloves, the better to handle a particularly revolting set of specimens. “All versions of anti-Semitism libel Jews. These libels may be grouped under three headings: the blood libel … the conspiracy libel … the economic libel.” A series of distinctions between categories, so fine they might border on the legalistic, follows. The chapter on the mentality of modern anti-Semitism describes four types of English anti-Semitic intellectual: A, B, C, and D. Category B further subdivides into categories B1 and B2.

Not that Julius fails to supply many an arresting, plain-spoken sentence. Several passages of argument culminate in a line memorable and true—indeed, memorable because true. Thus he denies anti-Semitism the status of an ideology, maintaining that it merely allows lumpen-thinkers to barge into intellectual debates that are beyond them: “Anti-Semitism has a place in the history of ideas only in the sense that a burglar has a place in a house.” In a similar vein, Julius offers this on “the new anti-Zionism”: “It inhabits those grooves along which received thought—and non-thought—moves. It is, so to speak, the spontaneous philosophy of … those who do not philosophize, and the spontaneous history of many of those who know no history.” He is particularly scathing about the more extreme Jewish critic of Zionism, upending one of the more clichéd insults often hurled in their direction: “The Jewish anti-Zionist scourge is not a self-hater; he is enfolded in self-admiration. He is in step with the best opinion.”

Read rest of the essay, here.